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Teams: Key Saints pair back as Nic Nat returns

St Kilda’s forward line will welcome significant reinforcements with the return of key forwards Tim Membrey and Max King for Thursday night’s clash against West Coast.Membrey returns to the Saints line-up after missing last weekend’s win over Hawthorn after finger surgery, while first-year tall King was rested from the clash.King had played every game up…

St Kilda’s forward line will welcome significant reinforcements with the return of key forwards Tim Membrey and Max King for Thursday night’s clash against West Coast.

Membrey returns to the Saints line-up after missing last weekend’s win over Hawthorn after finger surgery, while first-year tall King was rested from the clash.

King had played every game up until the last round in his debut season, in which he has so far kicked 19 goals from 14 matches.

SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE FIRST ROUND 17 TEAMS

Fellow forward Nicholas Hind has also been named for the clash against the Eagles at the Gabba as the Saints aim to secure their first finals appearance since 2011.

Ryan Abbott, Jonathan Marsh and Ed Phillips have all been omitted.

The Eagles have made six changes for the clash against the Saints, welcoming back star ruckman Nic Naitanui, captain Shannon Hurn – and the debut of another Brayshaw.

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After Sunday’s narrow loss to the Western Bulldogs, the Eagles have lost Dom Sheed (hamstring), Jack Redden (thumb), Lewis Jetta (calf), Mark Hutchings (hamstring) and Brandon Ah Chee (finger) to injury.

Tom Hickey has been omitted for Naitanui, who was rested against the Bulldogs, as the Eagles fight to stay in the top-four frame.

Will Schofield returns after elbow surgery alongside Jarrod Brander, Jack Petruccelle and debutant Hamish Brayshaw, the brother of Demon Angus and Docker Andrew.

KEY TIGERS PAIR SET FOR RETURN

Richmond will get a significant boost for Friday night’s blockbuster clash against Geelong as Dylan Grimes and Kane Lambert return from injury.

Grimes strained his hamstring against West Coast on August 27, then missed the win over Fremantle last week, when Lambert was also sidelined for a one match with a hip issue.

The premiership players have had the extra break because of Richmond’s Round 16 bye and Tigers coach Damien Hardwick confirmed on Wednesday they would return to face the second-placed Cats.

“Dylan will be available … and it was just a management call with Kane,” Hardwick said.

“He’s had a hip complaint over a number of weeks and we just thought we’d take the opportunity with a shortened break to give him a rest but then he had the nine days after so he gets a really extended break to get that hip right for the remainder of the year.”

Richmond enters Friday’s game in fourth spot with a 10-4-1 record, while Geelong is second at 11-4.

The sides are looking to seal their positions in the top four ahead of the final round.

Hardwick said the match would come down to “control versus chaos”.

“They’re a great side and defensively they’re very, very strong,” he said.

“You look at the way they play, time in possession’s a big one for them.

“Geelong are very much a control side, we’re a chaos side.

“Which defence stands up best will be a matter of time.

“We feel our very best is good enough but there’s no doubt Geelong would feel exactly the same.

“It’s going to be a great test, we’re really looking forward to the challenge and they’re in terrific form.”

The game will feature a host of intriguing match-ups and one of them may be emerging fullback Noah Balta on in-form veteran forward Tom Hawkins.

Hardwick said Hawkins was in brilliant form.

“He’s a reason they’re playing so well,” he said.

“If we’re relying on Noah to beat him one out, we’re going to be in a little bit of trouble so we’ve got to make sure we help whoever that player is.”

Balta is helping to hold up a Tigers defence that has missed not only Grimes but fellow key backman David Astbury.

Hardwick expected defender Astbury to play in a scrimmage this week, having returned to full training.

The club was also excited about star midfielder Dion Prestia’s progress from an ankle injury and infection, and was hopeful he would feature in a scrimmage during the pre-finals bye.

ROUND 17 TEAMS

ST KILDA v WEST COAST EAGLES

Thursday September 10, 7.10pm at the Gabba

SAINTS

B: J.Geary, D.Howard, N.Coffield

HB: H.Clark, C.Wilkie, B.Long

C: J.Battle, S.Ross, J.Billings

HF: J.Lonie, R.Marshall, B.Hill

F: M.King, T.Membrey, D.Butler

FOLL: P.Ryder, J.Steele, Z.Jones

I/C: B.Paton, J.Sinclair, D.Kent, N.Hind

EMG: D.Roberton, S.Savage, J.Marsh, J.Carlisle

IN: M.King, T.Membrey, N.Hind

OUT: R.Abbott, J.Marsh, E.Phillips (all omitted)

EAGLES

B: W.Schofield, T.Barrass, B.Sheppard

HB: S.Hurn, J.McGovern, L.Duggan

C: J.Nelson, T.Kelly, J.Waterman

HF: J.Brander, J.Darling, J.Petruccelle

F: O.Allen, J.Kennedy, L.Ryan

FOLL: N.Naitanui, B.Ainsworth, A.Gaff

I/C: H.Brayshaw, X.O’Neill, T.Cole, J.Rotham

EMG: L.Foley, B.Williams, J.Cameron, N.Reid

IN: W.Schofield, S.Hurn, J.Brander, J.Petruccelle, N.Naitanui, H.Brayshaw

OUT: T.Hickey (omitted), L.Jetta (injured), D.Sheed (injured), M.Hutchings (injured), J.Redden (injured), B.Ah Chee (injured)

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