Madden's fast-tracked Lions AFL return

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Chris Fagan has wasted no time in recalling speedy Irishman James Madden, the Brisbane coach acknowledging he is a factor in the side's up-tempo AFL defence this season.

Madden had surgery on a broken finger but will only miss one round after being thrust back into the Lions' side to face St Kilda on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

The 21-year-old first caught the eye of recruiters when he broke the all-time AFL Draft Combine 20 metre sprint record at the European Combine back in December of 2017.

In just his sixth AFL appearance, Madden's selection in a crowded field is an indication of how highly the former hurler and Gaelic football talent from Dublin is rated by the premiership contenders.

"We like his speed in defence; he can cover the quickest opponent that can put up," Fagan said.

"Potentially (there is extra pace in the backline compared to last year), but there's leg speed and speed of ball movement.

"The ball can move quicker than legs, so it's been a combination of both things this year.

"We've quickened up a little bit in the way we use the ball and people like him have enhanced that process."

A potential AFL debut last season was scuppered by COVID-19 with Madden stuck in Ireland training by himself before boldly returning for another crack.

"He had a pretty wretched year in terms of his development, so he's done a great job to get to this point and there's still room to improve," Fagan said.

The coach confirmed Jarrod Berry would miss at least another week with a minor calf tear, the midfielder only returning from a lengthy break last week after a groin injury.

Lachie Neale (calf) will return though as the Lions (11-4, third) brace for a St Kilda (7-8, 11th) side chasing a third-straight win.

"We know we've got a big battle on our hands because they're trying to get into the eight," Fagan said.

"They're alive and kicking in this season and have a lot to play for."

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