Baker set for quick return with Saints - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Baker set for quick return with Saints

By Adam Cooper 22/04/2008 07:17:49 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda tagger Steven Baker will make an immediate return to the AFL from suspension to apply a heavy tag on one of Port Adelaide's stars at AAMI Stadium on Saturday night.

Baker has been the forgotten man at Moorabbin as he completed a seven-game ban for an off-the-ball clash with Fremantle's Jeff Farmer late last season, but can expect a big job on one of Port's creative midfielders.

Saints coach Ross Lyon has labelled the clash as a benchmark test for a side that have had their share of troubles interstate in recent years and wants his tough little tagger to start despite a lack of match fitness.

"I'm really keen to play him, he's a best and fairest winner ... I'm pretty keen to see him play," Lyon said.

"He's a very fit player, he's mentally tough, he's been training all summer and he played all the (pre-season) NAB Cup virtually, so he's right.

"Everyone fundamentally loves playing football and it's his passion and he's clearly missed that."

But full-forward Fraser Gehrig is no certainty to return after being rested for a week and watching the forward line click and the Saints' pressure inside their forward-50 improve in the win over Essendon.

"He'll be playing football, it's just where he plays," Lyon said.

"He'll be playing interstate somewhere, whether it's Tasmania (in the VFL) or Adelaide."

St Kilda are also hopeful Michael Gardiner can return from a calf injury and provide a straight swap for fellow ruckman Steven King, who has a hamstring problem.

Lyon said Gardiner had to train and recover well this week to make the trip, but played down fears the Saints would be bereft of good big men against Port pair Brendon Lade and Dean Brogan if he did not make it.

"They're two formidable ruckmen, no doubt about that," he said.

"But (Justin) Koschitzke rucks, we've got (Michael) Rix, young (Ben) McEvoy played well in the seconds and he's our first-round draft pick, and Jason Blake can ruck, so we don't think there's a shortage of ruckmen."

Port's breakthrough first win this season, over West Coast last Sunday, means last year's beaten grand finalist can now put their bad start behind them.

Lyon believes the clash - the Saints' first away from Telstra Dome this season - will provide a good test.

St Kilda have struggled interstate in recent years, winning only one of five games outside Victoria in 2007 and 9-17 overall since 2003, but Lyon saw encouraging signs in the pre-season competition.

"We won at Manuka (Canberra) and we won at AAMI Stadium, we feel good about that," he said.

"... So we go over there with a degree of confidence that our preparation and routine will allow us to perform well.

"At the end of the day if you're going to be a good team you have to win interstate.

"We can keep looking backwards all we like, but we can only control what's in front of us ... I'm no chance to change the past."

Small forward Adam Schneider will be sidelined for another week by his hamstring injury.

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