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Key Swan backing the Demons

James Dampney 22/03/2011 07:12:28 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne are under pressure to perform in 2011, but the Demons have already found one fan in Sydney star Ryan O'Keefe.

Having received some lofty AFL draft picks in recent years and shown noticeable improvement, the Demons know they need to push for finals football this coming season.

After consecutive wooden spoons in 2008 and 2009, Melbourne finished 12th last year with eight wins, while they also passed 30,000 members on Tuesday for the first time.

So the heat is on, but O'Keefe believes they're up to the task.

The Swans take on the Demons on Sunday at the MCG, the first time they've met since Melbourne belted Sydney by 73 points in round 17 last year, and O'Keefe expects big things from Dean Bailey's men.

"Definitely, I can see Melbourne being one of the most improved teams in the comp," he said.

"They've got some really good players and their brand of footy is pretty good, so I can see them being a real key contributor in the finals this year."

That round 17 match-up was Sydney's worst loss in 2010 and still leaves a nasty taste in their mouth.

But the Swans are focused on improving on last year's overall result, when they surprised most by reaching the semi-finals.

"I try to forget about those sort of games," O'Keefe said of their last clash with Melbourne.

"Obviously they played pretty well and we played pretty poor.

"That's last year though, we've got to move on and worry about what we can control and that's how we play.

"You can't look too far ahead, but our goal this year is to improve.

"We made the finals last year but we want to improve on that, that's the biggest goal for our side this year."

Sydney will be missing some key talent in round one, including injured quartet Tadhg Kennelly (knee), Craig Bolton (achilles), Daniel Bradshaw (knee) and Nick Malceski (knee).

But they believe they have the depth required this season, with O'Keefe expecting the likes of Gary Rohan, Lewis Jetta, Trent Dennis-Lane and Sam Reid to continue their development.

"If you're going to be a good side you have to have depth," he said.

"If you look at all the top four sides over the last decade, they've had really good depth.

"It's probably another area we've improved in and is a lot stronger than it was last year.

"I've seen a lot of improvement out of a lot of the players.

"I can see from the younger tier of players it's been a growth pre-season for them so it's exciting to see how they benefit and how they perform this year.

"We've got confidence in every player that will play this weekend that they can do the job."

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