Luck changes for Lions cub - finally - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Luck changes for Lions cub - finally

By Laine Clark 30/04/2009 07:02:41 PM Comments (0)

AFL hard-luck story Sam Sheldon received a reversal of fortune on Thursday.

Then again, he was due.

Sheldon, 20, will make his AFL debut against Essendon at the Gabba on Saturday night as one of four new faces for the smarting Lions.

It's welcome good news for the youngster.

He broke his leg in his first year at the Lions in 2007, suffered osteitis pubis last year and had his 2009 pre-season disrupted by a "severe" bout of glandular fever.

But the classy midfielder isn't out of the woods just yet.

First there is the small matter of living up to the family name - his dad Ken Sheldon won three premierships in a stellar career with Carlton.

Oh, and Sheldon has been given the No.3 guernsey - previously owned by none other than club legend and current coach Michael Voss.

Sheldon was named on the bench along with Scott Harding and Albert Proud while fellow new face Cheynee Stiller will celebrate his 50th game after being injected into the starting side.

Voss did not exactly wield the axe following their last round 93-point loss at Geelong - two changes were injury enforced.

Bradd Dalziell (knee) will be out for up to six weeks - six weeks earlier than first feared - while Tom Collier suffered a shoulder injury against the Cats.

Jason Roe and Lachlan Henderson have been omitted.

Dalziell and Collier were added to a growing injury list that already boasts the likes of ruckmen Matthew Leuenberger (knee), Jamie Charman (ankle) and small forward Rhan Hooper (ankle).

Asked about making wholesale changes on Thursday, Lions assistant Justin Leppitsch laughed: "We probably don't have enough players on our list for wholesale changes."

But Leppitsch acknowledged that injecting youngsters such as Sheldon would provide welcome enthusiasm to a deflated Lions.

"Emotionally it is hard (to bounce back). But I don't think we are as bad a team as we were last week," he said.

"But when you have an emotionally deflating day like that you tend to be flat.

"But we will find out Saturday night whether we have the resolve to bounce back from something like that."

While skipper Jonathan Brown questioned the Lions' skill level this week, Leppitsch pinpointed another area for concern ahead of the Bombers clash.

"A hallmark of our game has been our competitiveness," he said.

"Over the last two, three seasons we have pretty much had that intact.

"I think only on one or two occasions there hasn't been. Last weekend was one of those - our basic competitive instinct wasn't there."

Leppitsch said the Lions reluctantly consulted the Geelong game tape before tackling Essendon.

"Half of you wants to learn from it, the other half wants to forget about it entirely - but we have learnt from it," he said.

"And players need to learn. They need to understand why we lost and then move on quickly."

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