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Clarke will miss International Rules

By Cliona Foley

 Martin Clarke will not be available to the international rules squad for the forthcoming two test series against Australia.

A preliminary squad is expected to be announced early next week after prospective players took part in a training camp last weekend in Carton House outside Maynooth.

Clarke has not been part of any preparations for the trip to Australia as he prepares to make his return to the AFL in the coming weeks.

Management had been leaving the door open to him up to last weekend but now they are now resigned to being without the Down man. Reports from Australia yesterday suggest that Clarke could return to Collingwood via the draft system used by the AFL which takes places at the end of November.

It had been thought that new AFL club Greater Western Sydney would be Clarke's first port of call when he returns this month but Collingwood are interested in re-signing him. Chief executive Gary Pert had indicated that the matter will be discussed next week when the defeat to Geelong is left behind.

Former Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse, a big fan of Clarke as an AFL player and coach to the Australian team which defeated Ireland in last year's series, stepped down from his position last weekend.

The Irish preparations are continuing but serious doubts are emerging over the availability of any Dublin players.

Bernard and Alan Brogan, Stephen Cluxton and Rory O'Carroll are expected to feature on the preliminary squad but with their respective clubs still involved in the last 16 of the Dublin championship, some will have to miss the series in Australia.

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