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Lions veteran set for finals return

FIRST-choice Brisbane ruckman Stef Martin is set for an AFL finals return, while fellow big man Archie Smith could be back as early as Wednesday night as the Lions continue to receive mixed news on the injury front.Still reeling from a Harris Andrews hamstring injury that will sideline the star defender for up to six…

FIRST-choice Brisbane ruckman Stef Martin is set for an AFL finals return, while fellow big man Archie Smith could be back as early as Wednesday night as the Lions continue to receive mixed news on the injury front.

Still reeling from a Harris Andrews hamstring injury that will sideline the star defender for up to six weeks, the Lions on Monday confirmed that a potential replacement for Andrews – the experienced Marcus Adams – would not return this season from his fractured foot injury.

But in better news for the Lions, Smith is poised to make a timely return from an ankle injury for Brisbane’s battle with the Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba on Wednesday night.

Smith’s presence will cover the loss of Tom Fullarton, who is set for a lengthy period on the sidelines after injuring his quad in Brisbane’s eight-point win over Collingwood last Friday night.

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“Archie’s going well,” Lions football manager David Noble said.

“He played his second (practice) game back this week. He did really well.

“He probably comes back into contention (on Wednesday) you’d imagine.”

Martin will have to wait a little longer as he recovers from a back injury that has already sidelined him for seven matches.

But Noble has been happy with the progress of the 33-year-old veteran.,

“Stef was running on Saturday before our practice match with Collingwood. He’s actually moving along really well,” Noble said.

“If there’s some good progression with him in the next couple of weeks, we might be able to squeeze a practice match in with him before the bye (ahead of finals), which would be pretty encouraging.

“We don’t know if he gets a little setback or it takes a little longer, but we’re really comfortable with the loads he’s getting up to.”

Who replaces Harris is the Lions’ biggest selection decision ahead of the QClash battle.

Jack Payne, who has made just one senior appearance, is favoured ahead of Matt Eagles and Alex Witherden.

The Lions also have the option of shifting Dan McStay from the forward line to the defence, as they did after Andrews went off against the Magpies.

“That’s certainly a possibility,” Noble said.

“We did it on (Friday night) and I thought he actually helped us out in that last 10 minutes

“It’s something that Dan’s done previously. The last two years we’ve kept him more forward, but in 2017, 2016 he was probably one of those guys who could go backwards and forwards, so that’ll certainly be a consideration.”

Noble sad 27-year-old Adams, who has played just one game this season, would not be back this year.

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