Baker has a few days to impress Lyon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Baker has a few days to impress Lyon

09/09/2010 07:10:27 PM Comments (0)

Steven Baker looms as "a massive decision" for coach Ross Lyon and the rest of the St Kilda match committee ahead of their AFL preliminary final.

Lyon has stressed that the tough defender is only one of several fringe players trying to force their way into the senior team.

But none of the other candidates trying to stake their claim have Baker's standing in the team or his unique circumstances.

The 191-game backman was a late withdrawal after being picked for last Friday night's qualifying final win over Geelong.

Baker was coming off a nine-game suspension, which also featured a few days' rest because of a broken toe.

By the time the Saints meet either the Western Bulldogs or Sydney on September 18 in a preliminary final, it will have been 11 weeks since Baker last played.

"He's been on the agenda for a while, we had the countdown, week-by-week, and then he had that hiccup with an injury," Lyon said.

"But he's certainly banged in a lot of work and every day he gets more and more impressive, so he's certainly a chance.

"There's no denying, it's a long time to be out, but it's not like he had a significant injury, basically he's done an enormous amount of work.

"It's a significant challenge, no doubt, and a massive decision to be made at the appropriate time."

Lyon also said Jarryn Geary was "really, really unlucky" not to play against Geelong and mentioned Jack Steven, David Armitage and Luke Miles as other players "banging on the door".

The Saints are well-placed, with no significant injury problems and their confidence rising after the narrow win over Geelong.

St Kilda had their main training session on Thursday, while fitness coach Dave Misson will also put work into the players on Saturday.

After Saturday night, they will know their preliminary final opponent and can then start their match buildup.

Lyon is well aware that there is no guarantee the week off will help them in the preliminary final.

"History tells you, it can work for you and against you, so it's about getting the management right, the training loads right and mentally players staying tuned in and relaxing when they need to," he said.

"It's not a hard and fast formula, it's science and art.

"Until you get your result, you don't know how you've handled it.

"It is a long, hard year and the opportunity to freshen up a little bit, if you handle it in the right manner, should be an advantage."

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