Maguire, Williams unlikely for round one - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maguire, Williams unlikely for round one

By Sam Lienert 21/03/2009 08:07:03 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda defender Matt Maguire and Western Bulldogs backman Tom Williams are both unlikely to play in the opening AFL round despite continuing their comebacks with solid weekend hit-outs in the VFL.

Maguire, who played just four games last season because of foot stress fractures, played almost a full practice game for the Saints' VFL affiliate Sandringham against Williamstown on Saturday.

Raph Clarke and Adam Schneider were other experienced Saints players to take to the field for the VFL club.

Williams, working his way back from an ankle injury, played about 70 minutes for Williamstown.

Maguire, who has had a terrible run of injuries in recent seasons, moved well and took some impressive contested marks.

It was his second practice match of the pre-season, along with two intraclub games and Sandringham coach Andy Lovell, who is also the Saints' development coach, said there were good signs.

"All he's been trying to do is get his body in a condition to play competitive footy," Lovell said.

"Today was the first time that he started to look like he was running on top of the ground rather than just labouring."

Lovell said Maguire also showed that his decision making and judgment in marking contests were returning to their former level.

But he suggested he was unlikely to be part of the Saints' season-opener against Sydney at Telstra Dome next Saturday night.

"He's pressing his case really well, but bearing in mind today's the first time he's really showed that he's starting to get back to some sort of form and match fitness, he might be still a bit off," Lovell said.

Similarly, Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said Williams was likely to need another run at VFL level.

"I would think he would probably miss round one and hopefully be right for round two," Eade told Melbourne's SEN radio.

Williams admitted that while he felt physically sound, he was still regaining touch.

"It's hard to pick it up sometimes," he said.

"I feel really good but I've just got to pick up all the little things in the game, so that's taken a bit of time."

The clubs had gained for permission for their star forwards - Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt and the Bulldogs' Robert Murphy - to play in the VFL, with both also working their way back after injury, but neither played.

Eade said that Murphy, coming off knee surgery, had pulled up sore after last weekend's practice game, although he was able to train solidly on Friday.

But there was reluctance to play both Murphy and Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney, who has also had a restricted pre-season, in next Sunday's Subiaco meeting with Fremantle.

"With the travel to Perth and the big ground, whether we can take two players who haven't had as much game time as others, we have to decide that during the week," Eade said.

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