Saints rule out Howard for Giants elimination final

Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS

Dougal Howard's ill-timed wrist injury has ruled him out of an AFL elimination final recall when St Kilda clash with GWS at the MCG.

While Howard is available again for the first time since round 19, St Kilda coach Ross Lyon confirmed on Thursday that he would stick with Zaine Cordy.

The Western Bulldogs 2016 premiership defender has played the last five games and impressed Lyon.

"He (Howard) understands possession is nine-tenths of the law," Lyon said before training on Thursday morning.

"In fairness to Zaine, he's had some good scalps and played well."

Cordy and his fellow Saints defenders - the most miserly backline this season - will have their hands full with All-Australian and Giants captain Toby Greene, who looms as one of the key players in this finals series.

"Just team defence - I like Toby, I've had dinner with Toby in the past," Lyon said.

"But he'd be a fierce enemy.

"It's a weakest link game, AFL. It's not just about Toby.

"They have a really good system, we have a good system, it's going to be about more than Toby, it's going to be about more than Max (King)."

King is also back for the Saints, forming a key forward duo with Tim Membrey, after he was managed for their round-24 loss to Brisbane.

GWS have been boosted by the return of Sam Taylor (hamstring) for what is likely to be a mouth-watering match-up on King.

The Giants also welcome back Finn Callaghan.

Along with King, St Kilda were able to recall midfielder Seb Ross.

Always one to relish a challenge, Lyon is embracing his team's underdog status for Saturday's clash.

The Saints have exceeded expectations in Lyon's return to the club this season and he is playing up the Giants' favouritism for the MCG clash.

"The sentiment is the Giants go in favourites and maybe deservedly so, but we've had a our backs to the wall and that's nothing new," Lyon said.

"But it probably steels us just that little bit more."

One factor in GWS's favour is they boast more finals experience, but Lyon has coached St Kilda and Fremantle to grand finals.

He can also lean on a coaching staff that features Robert Harvey, Brendon Goddard, Lenny Hayes and Geelong premiership great Corey Enright - all players who enhanced their reputations in finals.

"I've loved some of the language from our players - 'we prepare like it's a final every week, nothing is really different, just the result is bigger'," Lyon said.

"We lean in with our players - Harvey, Hayes, Enright - all that experience that they possess."

As the Saints trained in front of several hundred fans at Moorabbin, Lyon noted the major changes at the club since he abruptly left in 2011.

Then, Moorabbin was a bomb site and St Kilda had made an abortive move to a much-unloved facility at Seaford, further down the bayside beaches towards Frankston.

Now the Saints have impressive facilities at their RSEA Park home, as well as record membership and healthier corporate backing.

Lyon also has no problems playing on Saturday at the MCG, rather than their Marvel Stadium home.

"There wouldn't be an AFL player that doesn't want to play a final at the MCG, to be fair, with respect to Marvel," he said.