AFL: St Kilda’s five-day break a factor in Liam Henry injury, says coach

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St Kilda coach Ross Lyon says the five-day break before his side’s round 2 win over Collingwood likely played a role in the hamstring injury to star recruit Liam Henry.

But Lyon says the Saints will “get on with it” and accept Henry’s absence as a cost of staging the blockbuster Thursday night clash in which they claimed a statement victory over the reigning premiers.

St Kilda will need to replace two of its best runners in Henry and Mason Wood along with suspended spearhead Max King against Essendon on Saturday, with Lyon confirming Anthony Caminiti and Dan Butler as inclusions.

It’s likely experienced speedster Zak Jones will also enter the Saints’ starting side after he had 15 disposals as the sub following Wood’s horror concussion in the first quarter.

“Look, it’s not ideal, but it’s a part of football life, isn’t it? (Essendon is) in the same boat, losing your big power forward (suspended Peter Wright), so we think Caminiti just comes into the team, he’s been in good form,” Lyon said.

“Probably a little bit unlucky not to have been in – he kicked 20 goals in his first year, averaged a goal a week, pretty good number, big contested mark, so I’m sure he’ll come in and compete.”

After impressing at half-forward in his first two games, first-round pick Darcy Wilson would be pushed up the ground to the wing to cover for Wood, Lyon said.

“We wish we had exactly like-for-like, but we know it doesn’t work like that,” he said.

“We’ve got (Dan) Butler in, so as long as he gets through (training on Thursday), he’ll play.

“We felt with (Ryan) Byrnes, we’ve got three really strong wingers, and now we’ve got a fourth in Darcy Wilson as well.”

Lyon said Henry, who could miss up to eight weeks with a hamstring tear that initially looked like an innocuous cramp in the closing minutes of the Magpies clash, had likely paid the price for a short turnaround from the season opener in Geelong.

“It’s not ideal, we’ve got about 10 or 12 on the injury list, but importantly there’s only three of them that are soft tissue,” he said.

“Henry was a big one, wasn’t it? The demands of the game and early in the season, we really want to be on prime time, so Thursday night’s great, but there’s a cost with that off round 1 at Geelong.

“You can’t attribute (the injury) to it solely, but it’s just that load piece, so it’s unfortunate but we’ve dealt with all that before and we just get on with it.”

Lyon said it would take more for him to sing Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera’s praises despite the defender’s best-on-ground performance against Collingwood, but he acknowledged his impressive professionalism for a third-year player.

“He’s got a bit of work to do, he’s a third-year player, there’s a lot of bouquets being thrown around and look, he had a good game, but it doesn’t guarantee him (another one) this week,” Lyon said.

“His prep’s good, he puts a lot into his mental preparation, physically he’s a really good athlete.

“He’s as equal to Owens and Windhager and Steele – I’ve been very fortunate to walk into a group that are really applying themselves to their football.

“The more you get to prepare like that, the easier it might be to bring people who are average preparers to become great preparers.”

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