Star Saint ‘looking likely’ as recruit held back

AFL Rd 2 - St Kilda v Collingwood
St Kilda coach Ross Lyon says Max King is ‘looking more likely’ to play against Port Adelaide. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

St Kilda spearhead Max King is “looking more likely” to take the field against Port Adelaide on Friday after undergoing a fitness test at Moorabbin on Wednesday.

Saints coach Ross Lyon could not guarantee King’s return to the side but said he was showing promising signs after hurting his knee against GWS a fortnight ago.

Lyon also said Carlton recruit Paddy Dow would need to get through a VFL game with Sandringham on Saturday before he played his first senior game as a Saint.

Dow returned via an unofficial scratch match last weekend following two months on the sidelines due to bone bruising in his knee from an incident in which he initially feared he had ruptured his ACL.

“It is, in a sense, like a fracture,” Lyon said about Dow’s recovery on Wednesday.

Football training
Paddy Dow is closing in on an AFL return. Picture: Michael Klein

“He’s feeling good, but we’ve got to set him up for success, so he’ll play VFL this weekend.

“The following week we’ll get Wood back and a couple of others, Liam Henry two weeks later, it just adds to the mix – we had seven players under 21 last week, of which the only other two teams were Gold Coast and West Coast.”

King spoke to St Kilda fitness staff on the field at Moorabbin as he was put through his paces in the Wednesday morning session.

Lyon said he was eager to bring the 23-year-old back into his forward line but would wait to see how he pulled up from training.

“Max King did our first training session (of the week), he’s training today. It’s not guaranteed, but he’s looking more likely,” the coach said.

“From my end, I’m hoping he gets up as well – it’s more likely than unlikely.”

Lyon said small forward Dan Butler was “frustrated” by his latest injury setback but remained a key part of his plans as he faces four to six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring tear.

Giants v St.Kilda - 12.4.24
Max King is poised to return against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval on Friday night. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Butler had struggled for form before his injury after a pre-season heavily interrupted by ankle surgery.

“He’s frustrated, but since I’ve been here he’s been incredible for me – he kicked 35 goals last year,” Lyon said.

“So we’ll just build him back up … we’ve got a longer-term horizon. In the near-term, yeah, it’s hurting, but every club’s got those (injuries).”

After the Saints gave up 135 uncontested marks to the Western Bulldogs in their 60-point loss, Lyon said they had moved back into the “education space” to fix their team defence.

“We’re pretty keen to get our energy back, so we’ve had a few days off … we’re pretty vibrant because we’ve (been) solution focused without throwing out all the platitudes,” he said.

“We just sat off the Bulldogs a lot, we were pretty passive in defence, and we term it a ‘collapse-back team’, which hasn’t been our trademark.

“We made some tactical errors from our end, and that’s the reason they had 135 uncontested marks, which we owned as a coaching team.

“It’s not a quick fix, but we’re pretty clear on how to educate it and improve it.”