Lone Scout: Don't let injuries get you down!

Do you know day it is? <br><br>I know what day it is. The addicts know what day it is. They've been suffering withdrawal symptoms all week! <br><br>That's right boys and girls - its trade day!<br><br>Injuries and selections have thrown a rather large spanner in the works yet again, so let's get to the nuts and bolts.<br><br>Here's a snapshot of the casualty ward's latest intake, and a few value for money suggestions on how to handle the affected.<br>&nbsp;<br><b>Karmichael Hunt:</b> Corked thigh<br>Due back: Round 21<br>Verdict: Why do you still have him?<br>Suggested replacement: Shannon Gallant ($92,500)<br><br><b>Peter Wallace: </b>Hamstring<br>Due back: Round 21<br>Verdict: If you're low on trades, keep him. If you have some breathing space, punt him and upgrade.<br>Suggested replacement: Cooper Cronk ($293,200) or, if you can afford him, Jamie Soward ($381,400)<br><br><b>Sam Thaiday:</b> Ribs<br>Due back: Round 21<br>Verdict: Been in form and he's very well priced. Keep him.<br>Suggested replacement: Isaac De Gois ($254,200)<br><br><b>Darren Lockyer: </b>Knee<br>Due back: Round 23<br>Verdict: You don't often hear this about the great Lockyer... but axe the guy, already!<br>Suggested replacement: Benji Marshall ($206,200)<br><br><b>Tom Learoyd-Lahrs:</b> Knee<br>Due back: Round 21<br>Verdict: Punt him like a Jamie Soward 40/20.<br>Suggested replacement: Greg Eastwood ($175,200)<br><br><b>Chris Houston:</b> Knee<br>Due back: Indefinite<br>Verdict: His form has been dropping lately... sell him.<br>Suggested replacement: Reece Williams ($198,300)<br><br><b>Craig Fitzgibbon:</b> Cheekbone<br>Due back: Round 21<br>Verdict: Stick with the old boiler.<br>Suggested replacement: Kade Snowden ($295, 200)<br><b><br>Kurt Gidley: </b>Ribs (named to play but unlikely)<br>Due back: Not sure<br>Verdict: Don't you even think of dropping him.<br>Suggested replacement: Didn't you hear me the first time? Keep him!<br><br>While we're on the topic of team changes, here are some players who are returning from injury and suspension this week: Anthony Minichiello, Bryson Goodwin, Ben Hannant, Greg Eastwood, Steve Price, Kevin Loche, Michael Crocker (still in some doubt) and Cameron Smith.<br><b><br>Preston writes:</b><br><b>I've got 1 trade left for the season and about $8500 in the bank. I'm not sure who to trade out of Darren Lockyer, Dean Young or Matt Hilder. Could you give me the best person to trade?</b><br><br>Preston, you have a problem. You see, despite what you might think - you don't NEED to trade every week! That one remaining trade could be vital over the remaining rounds. If you are intent on using your trade this week, get rid of Lockyer. Just be wary that you will be leaving yourself exposed when finals swing around.<br><br><b>Leach writes:<br>Been loving reading your ideas and predictions. Good work. I am coming in the 90s but only have two trades left. I have $73k in the bank.<br><br>I have a very strong side but am missing Farah. My plan is to upgrade one of my niff nuffs to Farah. These means I will need to get rid of Herbert to make the money.<br><br>Do you think it is best to do the two trades this week and bring in Farah to complete my team or to sit on what I have just in case there is any injuries?</b><br><br>In the immortal words of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, "sit on it"! It's the right trade, a very astute manoeuvre, but you simply have to hold out a few more weeks before you do it. What would you do if you traded Farah in this week and he broke a leg? It's just not worth the risk. Not yet, anyway.<br><br><b>Hakeem writes:<br>I really badly want to get rid of Corey Parker right now and I've got an extra $40k atm. I've got 2 options atm, either Laffranchi or Hilder. I’m leaning more towards Laffranchi right now because of his higher average, or is Hilder better because he can produce a 71?</b><br><br>Really tough call, Hakeem. It depends on how you see the rest of the season panning out for the Knights and Titans.<br><br>Hilder is a tackler, pure and simple. Laffranchi can offload, make line breaks, score tries and does his fair share of tackling too. With the Knights somewhat depleted through injury, Hilder may have to up his work rate, which would produce better numbers. But will he produce another 71? Well, if you take a look at that Round 14 game, you'll see he actually made 71 tackles. Now how often do you see that happening?<br><br>Now look at Laffranchi's 65 in Round 17. To reach that score, he make 40 tackles, ran 140m, gave two offloads and made two lines breaks.<br><br>Personally, I'd go for Laffranchi - but both would be sound options.<br><br><b>adil4264 writes:<br>I have $39000 in the bank and 4 trades remaining and would like to trade for Farah but don't know whether to get rid of Mathew Keating or Jake Friend, keeping in mind I would get rid of Lewis Brown for a base player. <br><br>I’m also wondering about Dallas Johnson, he's had a hard time through Origin and just got another low score, did he play less minutes? Would he be worth a trade with Sika Manu? And also when's Gallen coming back?</b><br><br>One question at a time, adil4264! OK, Friend or Keating - tough call. Very similar style players with similar scores. To be honest, I can't split them! Tried flipping a coin?<br><br>Dallas Johnson actually went off injured against the Eels on Monday night with what looked like a neck strain. He's been named this week but whether or not the injury reduces his workload is another question altogether. Look - I'd stick with him. The Storm will come home with a wet sail late in the season and it will be off the back of their stalwarts like Johnson. Plus, he's at a rotten selling value.<br><br>And as for Gallen, next week - fingers crossed!<br><br><b>Ara writes:<br>Can you give us your top 3 predictions for who you would make as your captain each week when you give your Friday tips? I spend hours during the week racking my brains as to who will bring in the most points based upon where the game is played, weather predictions, opponent, recent form, injuries, etc....<br><br>That will be a massive help leading into the finals.</b><br><br>So basically you want me to do your hard work and thinking for you, Ara? <br><br>Sure - that's what I'm here for! For the first time in forever we finally have a full round, and the big guns are all in the running. My general suggestions for captain are the usual suspects: Jamie Soward, Robbie Farah, Cameron Smith, Nathan Hindmarsh and David Stagg.<br><br>This week Jamie Soward is across the ditch against the Warriors. Last time he faced the Kiwis he posted a respectable 50 - and he should be fresh coming off the bye. The Warriors defence has been shaky of late, with Mitchell Pearce posting one of his best rounds of 47 against them last week.<br><br>The Dragons are also near full strength and should really unleash on a sunny Sunday afternoon.<br><br>Taking this into account, I'd certainly be expecting 55+ from the little playmaker.<br><br>Bulldogs and Eels clashes are always passionate affairs so expect both Stagg and Hindmarsh to post 40+ tackles here. I'd tip both will score similarly - probably around the 50 mark.<br><br>As for Robbie Farah, he's taking on the Raiders for Sunday afternoon football. Expect the Raiders to keep the speed of the game at a frantic pace with plenty of offloads, so look for Farah to post 45 tackles. The Raiders can also be brittle through the middle so Farah's scooting from dummy half could cause headaches. This could be 60+ week for the fiery hooker - especially after his little dust up with Watts.<br><br>So my tips? <br><br>1. Robbie Farah<br>2. Jamie Soward<br>3. David Stagg / Nathan Hindmarsh<br><br>Cameron Smith will certainly be up there as always but has been battling Origin soreness. A return to the Graveyard will help, but I'm just not feeling it this week for Cam.<br><br><b>Kim writes:<br>Q1. I am seriously thinking of trading in my halves this week. Out would be Cronk and Walsh, in Soward and Sammut leaving me with a $49,000 kit. I would assume this is the best time to do this with Soward on the up, and Cronk likely to peter off with Cam Smith coming back to Melbourne?<br><br>Q2: For the final two trades I was thinking along the lines of Kieran Foran for Mortimer, and possibly Paul Aiton for Taufua on the bench.<br>Will Foran keep playing? What timing do you think is best? Should I hold both back, or do one and keep the other until the last round?</b><br><br>A1. Cronk / Walsh for Soward / Sammut is a nice play. I'm a big fan.<br><br>A2. With Lyon back at five-eighth and Matai due back from suspension in two weeks, Foran might not get the game time you might like. I'd hold off that one. Aiton for Tafua? Certainly worthwhile.<br><br>Just finally, I thought I'd respond to the kindly folk across the Tasman who took offence to my little jibe at New Zealanders on Tuesday.<br><br>Having never been to your strange, little land... but having seen the size of the blokes in your national team - let me firstly issue my most sincere apology.<br><br>Inferiority complexes suck, and when the team your country has entered into our National competition can't bag a spot in the top half of the ladder... well, I understand your frustration.<br><br>I can only assume it was that frustration which sparked the wave of angry emails that flooded my inbox. My stat man tells me we received emails from almost half of the Kiwi population. Of the eleven emails, six and a half were coherent. Four weren't written by sheep. Three weren't written by Dave Dobbin. The rest ranted something about the 2008 World Cup.<br><br>Well, as every Warriors fan knows... you're only as good as your last game.<br><br>...I'm just joking, guys. My grandma was actually a New Zealander. Doesn't that mean I could play for the Kiwis?<br><br>Thanks for the feedback. It's been a slice of heaven.<br><br><b><a href="mailto:lonescout@nrldigital?subject=Dream%20Team%20query">Email me your queries by clicking here.</a></b><br><br>Scouts honour,<br>Lone Scout<br><br><b>PS. </b>At the risk of copping a lawsuit from the entire nation of New Zealand, please note the gibberish posted above is just that - gibberish. Just like the rest of this column, it's entirely light hearted! We love our Kiwi cousins… just like we love Flight of the Conchords. And Tiger Woods’ caddie. And… well, you catch the drift.<br>