Saints' Hudghton fit, faces stint in VFL - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints' Hudghton fit, faces stint in VFL

By Robert Grant 14/05/2009 02:35:34 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda fullback Max Hudghton will finally return from injury this week - but faces a fight to regain his spot in the senior side.

Hudghton, who has missed all season with a calf problem, will line up in the VFL for Sandringham.

But Saints coach Ross Lyon said that although Hudghton was likely to be considered for a promotion in two weeks, he would not be an automatic inclusion for the unbeaten ladder leaders.

In Hudghton's absence, Zac Dawson has come off the rookie list to do an admirable job at fullback in a defence conceding a miserly 54 points per game.

"He trained yesterday and he'll play this week in the VFL so we're rapt to have Max back and hopefully things will go well for him from here," Lyon said.

"He's going to need at least two weeks (in the VFL), you would think, and then we'll sit down as a match committee and review his form and his fitness from there.

"But he's highly respected and we're obviously keen to get Max in at the right time."

Lyon said Hudghton would face the same test as any other player trying to win a place in the side.

"He's a good AFL player and he's come off a terrific season but, in saying that, he's missed all the practice match series and the first seven rounds.

"It's not an insignificant period of time and it's been a significant rehabilitation and it's going to take a little bit of time to come to hand still.

"I think we've all got to keep our expectations realistic for Max."

Meanwhile, Lyon said he could see a role for defender Matt Maguire in the forward line after he booted a game-high five goals in the VFL last weekend.

"If we can continue to develop Matt in that way it's good for him and it's good for the club," Lyon said.

"And it also sort of freshens him up a little bit mentally where he doesn't have to follow someone around down back, he can take the game on.

"He was rapt about (that) and it's good that we're working together to try and get him back."

Lyon described the Saints' opponents this week, Essendon, as "red hot".

"People talk about the final eight doesn't change too much from here - maybe one comes in and out - but if you take out percentage they're equal third," he said.

"They're playing very good football, they're very quick. You can talk about youth and all those things but they've got enough there to do some damage.

"(Matthew) Lloyd's form was significant. He took 15 marks, kicked three goals and he's an absolute star. It's a real challenge for our defence.

"And they've got the game-breakers in (Andrew) Lovett and (Jason) Winderlich. (Brent) Stanton's been on fire with 36 possessions the last two weeks and (Paddy) Ryder in the ruck has brought a new dimension," he said.

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