After a long nine weeks at Moorabbin, St Kilda spearhead Max King is set to play his first game of 2023 against the Giants on Sunday. The 22-year-old key forward had a shoulder reconstruction in December before suffering a hamstring injury on the eve of the new season.

King finished sixth in the Coleman medal tally for 2022, booting a career-high 52 goals and leading the Saints to the verge of finals. His presence has been sorely missed through the opening months of 2023, with St Kilda lacking an established forward presence for most of the nine rounds.

Mitch Owens and Anthony Caminiti have combined for 21 goals this season, with both averaging around a goal and a half per game. Tim Membrey returned in round six but will miss this week’s clash under concussion protocols.

Speaking on Thursday before naming his squad, Ross Lyon warned there were still a few boxes to check before finalising his 22 on Friday night.

“He needs to train today [Thursday]. He needs to complete Friday, and then, with Tim Membrey in concussion protocol, he’ll be selected,” Lyon said.

“He was so close last week, but there were just a couple of things going against him.”

Embed from Getty Images

More AFL news

Wardlaw to make Roos debut

McAndrew set for tall task in Swans debut

Who’s leading your AFL club’s best and fairest?

King will return to AFL level with no load building in the reserves. While it may take him a few weeks to find his feet, Lyon believes it’s the right choice.

“He goes in on an uninterrupted week, he’ll feel good,” Lyon said.

“AFL is abnormal. It’s elite level sport. Every athlete will go into each week with a degree of anxiety. It’s how you handle it that matters, I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

The Saints have been a club blessed with dominant key forwards. Tony Lockett, Fraser Gehrig, Nick Riewoldt, fans will be itching to see their prodigal son back in action when he takes the field on Sunday.

King will likely be tasked with Jack Buckley in his return, a trial of fire with Buckley proving to be one of the premier key defenders this season. It looms as an exciting contest that will test the capabilities of both players.

The club will look to be cautious with Jack Steele after he sat out the final quarter against Adelaide with knee soreness, Lyon won’t risk anyone that isn’t “100 per cent fit”.  Defender Jimmy Webster returns to the side after recovering from a fractured cheekbone he suffered against Essendon.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

About Author