Unlucky Saint closing in on AFL ton - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Unlucky Saint closing in on AFL ton

By Jim Morton 11/02/2009 06:43:53 PM Comments (0)

Gun St Kilda defender Matt Maguire will attempt to restart one of the most luckless AFL careers when he lines up at Carrara on Saturday night.

Saints coach Ross Lyon has picked injury-plagued Maguire to play his first competitive match in 10 months in their pre-season cup clash with Brisbane.

It comes after a trouble-free return from a foot problem in last week's intra-club trial where the skilful centre half-back played all four 10-minute quarters.

As a measure of Maguire's recent run of outs, he has played just 14 senior games since round 18, 2006, when he broke his leg against the West Coast.

It was an horrific injury and a savage blow to the Saints, whose defence has never completely recovered.

Last year's return from stress fractures in his foot lasted just four weeks, leaving the 192cm Warrnambool product stranded on 99 AFL matches.

But Lyon has given the best indication yet that Maguire's long-awaited century milestone shouldn't be much further away.

"He'll play a part this year," Lyon said on Wednesday.

"How big a part none of us know and Matt doesn't know but he'll play a part.

"And it starts (now) for him to kick-start his career again."

Lyon admitted the 24-year-old could conceivably start round one against Sydney at Telstra Dome on March 28 but indicated he needed to do more than just negotiate the pre-season.

"We're all right behind him but ultimately he's got to earn his spot in the team," Lyon said on Wednesday.

"It's up to him and his body and preparation and form.

"He really becomes one of the pack and he has to emerge out of the pack with form and fitness.

"He's been an incredible loss over the last few years.

"He injured himself in round 18, 2006 and since then the back six hasn't been quite the same.

"He was one of the premier centre half-backs in the competition."

Lyon praised Maguire's ability to remain upbeat despite the setbacks.

"He's an extrovert and he's quite bubbly, and I'm sure he's had his moments behind closed doors, but he's bounced in and it's finally started to turn for him," he said.

St Kilda will take in a predominantly young team against the Lions and one man keen to impress is Irish-born former Lions defender Colm Begley after being cut by new Brisbane coach Michael Voss last year.

"He's had a football heart attack basically, his career was over, so he's got an opportunity," Lyon said.

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