Could Sam Skinner make his debut for Port in Round 2? Photo - portadelaidefc.com

After losing key players to injuries in its Round 1 loss to Brisbane, recruit Sam Skinner could be next in line for a debut.

Sam Skinner could be a potential debutant for Port Adelaide against Hawthorn after the club lost several key players to injury in its loss to Brisbane.

Port Adelaide has started its 2022 AFL season in less-than-ideal circumstances. After the side put up a good showing at the Gabba, the visitors were overrun as the loss of personnel proved decisive.

Port suffered key injuries to Xavier Duursma (collarbone), Trent McKenzie (knee), and Aliir Aliir (potential syndesmosis). Several other players were wounded in Robbie Gray and Connor Rozee.

Touted as one of the flag fancies heading into the season, Port’s premiership bid is already showing signs of faltering before it starts.

The injuries are brutal, particularly in the back half for Port Adelaide. Losing Aliir and McKenzie, two pillars of the Power’s vaunted defense is a cruel blow.

However, when injuries happen, it’s an opportunity for others to step up. But for Port, already without a host of players, along with Tom Clurey (knee) and Miles Bergman (shoulder) not available, where does Ken Hinkley go to for reinforcements? 

Potential debut for Sam Skinner?

The 24-year-old could very well be thrust back into the AFL spotlight on Saturday. After being delisted by the Brisbane Lions, he joined SANFL side South Adelaide last season. Skinner kicked 16 goals in 21 games for the Panthers in 2021.

A versatile player standing at 198cm tall, Skinner can be used as either a key defender or forward. He starred in South Adelaide’s semi-final win over Norwood last year with 21 possessions and 11 intercept marks.

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Jason Cripps, Port Adelaide’s list manager, likes what Skinner can bring to the table for the club across half-back.

“We like Sam’s athleticism, aggression, and competitiveness,” Cripps said back in November.

“While he has shown an ability to play at either end of the ground, we see him playing mostly in the backline where he performed strongly with South Adelaide in the back half of the 2021 season.”

Seemingly past his horror injury run that included three ACL ruptures, Skinner has been in good form throughout preseason. He was brought to the club mostly for depth, however, after just one round, his services could be called upon.

Port assistant coach Nathan Bassett spoke to the media today, hinting that Skinner could be a potential inclusion for the clash against the Hawks.

“Sam (Skinner) has a similar mindset (to Aliir) in how he goes for the ball in the air and how he plays intercept marks,” he said.

“Sam’s certainly a chance to come in and if he does he’ll look to give us everything he has.”

With the injury to McKenzie originally feared to be a season-ending ACL, Bassett says that the early signs are good for the key defender. McKenzie suffered a hyper extension of his knee rather than the horrible alternative.

“Scans are good for Trent McKenzie,” he said.

“He’s an outside chance for this week but it’s good signs.”

With only captain, Tom Jonas, and Ryan Burton possessing the ability to play tall, with injuries to Aliir and McKenzie, Skinner could be charged with nailing down a key post for the foreseeable future.

Other alternatives for Port?

If Ken Hinkley chooses not to go with Skinner, is there another alternative? Could Todd Marshall or Jeremy Finlayson be used in a key position down back? At first glance, one would not think so, but things are already getting a little desperate down at Alberton. The much maligned coaches hand could be forced.

Both are rather slight in build, but as we have seen with other players, a position switch can work wonders. Particularly when it is a forward moving to defense with former Blue, Liam Jones, a prime example.

Could Marshall be moved down back for Port? Photo – portadelaidefc.com.au

However, in taking one of those players out of the forward line, it would deplete an already shaky setup without spearhead Charlie Dixon.

Needing all the firepower it can get, moving out a key target could have detrimental effects at both ends for Port Adelaide.

It acquitted itself rather well on Saturday night, but Port’s casualty ward has filled up quickly as a result. If there is any good to come from the weekend’s injuries, it is that it happened in round one, rather than round 20.

However, that is a small consolation for Ken Hinkley. He will have to throw the magnets around at training to find a suitable solution to his crippling injury list.

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