St Kilda’s medical staff continue to work overtime with 15 players on the club’s injury list. Get the latest on King and Membrey plus an update on the Saints’ interest in Tom De Koning.
St Kilda’s hellish injury run has continued with Max King suffering a hamstring injury at training on Wednesday in another setback for the star forward.
King is on track for a round 7 return from his shoulder reconstruction and had been impressing track watchers with his overhead marking and strong progress in rehab.
St Kilda does not expect it to set him back from that overall round 7 return date but he will need to back off his training in the coming weeks.
His midfield foil Tim Membrey had an arthroscope on his knee and is progressing slowly, with coach Ross Lyon saying he could be back around rounds 3-5.
There are now 15 players on the St Kilda injury list, with the club still hopeful Marcus Windhager will prove his fitness and play against Fremantle despite a broken hand.
Lyon told Nine it was disappointing for King given it was yet another setback for a player desperate to make his mark in the new-look Saints side.
“He has been progressing and the plan is round 7,” he said.
“I actually walked out from the press conference a little bit late and walked out onto the track and the first thing I saw was (assistant coach) Brendon Goddard kicking the ball to Max King who led and then he grabbed his hammy. I was like, “Whoah, this isn’t good”.
“We think it’s on the minor end and he will get scanned and it shouldn’t affect his return date but he just didn’t need that disappointment, to be truthful.”
Lyon also confirmed the club is interested in Carlton forward Tom De Koning, as revealed by the Herald Sun’s Cap Space column on Wednesday.
“Not just Tom … It would be fair to say we haven’t been a destination club for whatever reason and some doors were shut … I have always liked him and the good clubs and great clubs run parallel. Day-to-day football focused on winning and Geelong have shown a great capacity to run parallel in the background to land players you need to build out your capabilities.
“I am really pleased with what we have got but clearly we paid the same amount of money at Geelong last year and they won a flag and won 16 in a row so we need to add some capability.”
SHIEL CALLS FOR ‘SHAMING’ STRINGER HATERS TO STOP
Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel has called for critics to stop “shaming” Jake Stringer over his longstanding fitness issues.
Much has been made of Stringer’s conditioning over the years, with the former Bulldog spending a good chunk of his AFL career on the sidelines.
However, Shiel says Stringer’s current hamstring niggle is a short term injury, and the star-forward is “not too far off” taking the field for 2023.
“We’ve been pretty hard on Jake all through his career, everyone’s different, everyone’s body responds differently to training,” Shiel said.
“What Jake lacks he make up in other aspects of the game, with his ability to be strong and powerful.
“There’s certainly improvement there for him to make, but there gets to a point in someone’s career where you’ve got to celebrate what they’re bringing, not so much shaming them for what they’re lacking.”
Meanwhile, Shiel wants Alwyn Davey Jr. to debut this Sunday, and says the live-wire forward will “bring some excitement to the footy club.”
He praised the father-son draftee for his intense forward pressure in training, which the Bombers desperately needed last year in Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s absence.
“He (Davey)’s got incredible speed, agility, the pressure that he brings to our forward line excites me,” Shiel said.
“Something we’ve lacked is that ability to hold the ball in our forward half … he’s been demonstrating that with Walla (McDonald-Tipungwuti), Jye Menzie and those sort of guys.
“I think he’s going to be an exciting player to watch, I think the Essendon members are going to be happy with what they see.”
Dyson Heppell and Jye Caldwell are also overcoming issues, and according to Shiel are “touch and go” to play this weekend.
Shiel touched on the excitement of playing his 200th game against arch-enemies Hawthorn, saying the bitter rivalry between the clubs is “still there for sure.”
He mentioned the role former Bombers have played in keeping the match up special to Essendon’s current crop of players, pointing to former player and assistant coach Mark Harvey as an example.
“What Mark Harvey’s done for this footy club, and the presence he brings for these sort of weeks … it’s pretty cool to hear his stories about the 80s and what it was like against Hawthorn.” Shiel said.
BIG BLOW FOR BOMBERS, SAINTS’ CARNAGE CONTINUES
Essendon has been dealt a significant blow ahead of its opening round clash against Hawthorn, ruling matchwinner Jake Stringer out with a hamstring injury.
The Bombers’ star forward suffered a hamstring strain in the lead-up to the club’s practice game against the Gold Coast Suns and the club said it was not prepared to take any risks with his return at the start of the home-and-away campaign.
While Essendon considered Stringer’s recovery to be progressing well, the Bombers did not want to rush him back to play without a full block of training with the main group behind him.
The club has him listed as being one-two weeks away from a return.
The Bombers are also sweating on the fitness of former captain Dyson Heppell (foot) and will make a decision on his availability for the Hawks’ clash during the week.
Essendon’s general manager of performance Daniel McPherson said Stringer, 28, had already put in a solid two-week block of running and kicking since the injury
“Our performance team have put together a comprehensive plan with Jake to get him back to his best post-injury,” McPherson said.
“He participated in a strong session on Saturday, and we want to make sure he has (a) block of full training with the main group before he is available for selection.
“It’s a long season ahead and we want to ensure Jake is fully ready to go when he returns to play, so we won’t be rushing him back.”
Stringer kicked 25 goals from his 15 games for the Bombers last season and was the club’s leading goalkicker in 2021.
Heppell sprained his foot in the hitout against the Gold Coast and the Bombers said he was progressing well in his recovery and would face a fitness test.
Small forward Matt Guelfi and midfielder Kyle Langford pushed their case for round one selection after strong performances in the club’s VFL practice match against Frankston on Saturday.
Midfielder Jye Caldwell (ankle) and second-year Bomber Ben Hobbs (calf) will also face fitness tests this week.
The Bombers face Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday.
KING’S RIGHT-HAND MAN OUT AS SAINTS CARNAGE CONTINUES
New St Kilda coach Ross Lyon will be without his two frontline forwards for the club’s round 1 clash against Fremantle after Tim Membrey was ruled out of the season-opener as the club deals with more fresh injury concerns.
Adding to the absence of spearhead Max King, who remains sidelined following shoulder surgery, the Saints confirmed on Monday 28-year-old Membrey had not recovered in time from a knee injury.
In another setback, the Saints also revealed defender Nick Coffield would also miss the opening round after injuring his calf at training late last week.
The Saints said the injury was likely to sideline Coffield for between four to six weeks.
St Kilda said Seb Ross was also unlikely to “tick all the boxes” to be available for round one as he managed a calf complaint, which is likely to keep the midfielder out for one-two weeks.
And young gun Marcus Windhager (hand) will have to prove his fitness at training this week, while Max Heath also faces a test on his ankle.
Routine scans have also revealed Jack Hayes’ recovery from his foot injury was progressing slower than expected.
The Saints said his return was likely to now be closer to the mid-season bye.
The loss of Membrey is a blow as the Saints predicted King was still likely to be sidelined for another six to nine weeks.
The Saints said Membrey’s return date was still to be confirmed.
St Kilda said it did not want to rush Membrey or Ross “unnecessarily”.
“Obviously, this is not an ideal situation to have Nick join the injury list, particularly after the difficult year he has had,” acting general manager of football David Misson said.
“In the case of Tim and Seb, we need to think longer term and make sure we’re not rushing them unnecessarily.”
The Saints open their season – and their new era under Lyon – against the Dockers on Sunday at Marvel Stadium.
Dees duo in doubt
– Jon Ralph
Melbourne will give Bailey Fritsch and Jack Viney every chance to prove their fitness at training this week as they prepare to take on a Western Bulldog side close to full strength on Saturday.
The Demons completed a massive session on Friday without Viney (knee) and Fritsch (foot), but football boss Alan Richardson said on Sunday the pair were still a chance to play.
Fritsch has missed both of the club’s practice matches after suffering a bruised foot after being stomped on, while Viney has no structural damage but is sore following a training mishap.
The Demons have such depth in their forward line and midfield that they could go into that MCG clash without the stars and believe they can cover their loss.
But Fritsch has kicked 59 and 55 goals in the past two seasons, so the Demons are keen for him to step up his training this week to see how his foot responds.
Christian Salem (thyroid issue) is finally making strong progress and will likely be available in the first few rounds of the AFL season.
“They are pretty much 50-50,” Richardson said of the pair.
“It’s all about what happens this week at training. We don’t play until Saturday so we will give them every chance. Fritsch is training. He didn’t do everything Friday but he did quite a bit. People underestimate what they can do in the gym off legs. He is pretty good shape but we want him to ramp it up this week.”
The Demons featured their new-look forward line against Richmond last week with Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy both kicking three goals in a star ruck pairing.
The Demons had nine goal scorers as Tom McDonald (three goals), Ben Brown (one goal) and small forwards Charlie Spargo (two goals), Christian Petracca (one goal) and Kysaiah Pickett (one goal) also got involved.
Melbourne’s trio of key tall defenders in Harrison Petty, Steven May and Jake Lever were all in excellent form against Richmond, with rookie defender Judd McVee keeping out Michael Hibberd.
The Dogs look set to play four key forwards, so the Demons might decide they need more height or have confidence that Max Gawn dropping back as a floating ruckman can give them the aerial ascendancy.
That would require one of Trent Rivers, Jake Bowey or Angus Brayshaw to play on a taller opponent given the Dogs will play Aaron Naughton, Rory Lobb, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy in attack, at times.
Young small forward Arthur Jones and livewire forward Cody Weightman are both battling injuries that will likely see them miss round 1.
Originally published as AFL Injury News: All the latest in the lead up to Round 1
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