AFL 2023: Max King could return in time for Carlton blockbuster

St Kilda could take on Carlton with its most potent forward line of the year, with gun goalkickers Max King and Tim Membrey set to join breakout star Anthony Caminiti in the line-up for Sunday’s finals-shaping clash.

Less than a month after he was ruled out for the season, King, who reinjured his troublesome left shoulder in the Saints’ round 17 loss to Melbourne, needed only to get through “legitimate contact” at training on Wednesday to take his place.

His expected return comes with Tim Membrey also in the selection frame after Caminiti, who has kicked 19 goals in his debut AFL season filling the void left by King and Membrey, got off a striking charge at the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night.

The news comes at a crucial time for St Kilda, with the loser of Sunday’s MCG clash set to face a difficult battle to secure a finals spot.

Camera IconMax King is due to enter contact training this week after wearing a non-contact cap during sessions at Moorabbin for the past fortnight. Jake Nowakowski Credit: News Corp Australia

“(King) will be closer at the end of today, he’ll train, have more contact. I try to stay in my lane,” coach Ross Lyon said.

“I saw him this morning, he gave me a pat on the shoulder so I don’t know how to interpret that, whether he’s feeling sorry for me or (saying) ‘I’ll be OK, coach’.

“Tim (Membrey) is available, hopefully Max is available – we think he will be.”

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The coach was pleased Anthony Caminiti would be available to face the Blues after his one-match ban was overturned, but Lyon told the first-year key forward he had to make smarter decisions on the field following his second striking charge for the season.

“Thankfully, Anthony Caminiti had a favourable result – he played really quite well last week, so it’s exciting,” Lyon said.

“He’s a ripping kid … I wasn’t pleased (about his report for striking Hawthorn captain James Sicily), I let him know – put your ego in the pocket and submit to the team’s needs.

“We’ve got the ball in our hands … it was just reactionary, it was the right decision, there was no intent. It was a bit careless – it’s a sharp reminder, he’s blown up our soft cap.”

Lyon said Cooper Sharman was also available after experiencing soreness following his impressive negating role against Sicily on Sunday.

Jack Steele had a strong influence in a similar role against Patrick Cripps when the Saints beat Carlton earlier this season, but Lyon said the Saints skipper had returned to his best and he would be more inclined to let him hunt the ball rather than repeat the match-up.

“I haven’t been fortunate to see the best of Jack, he was struggling through those niggles, but I’ve certainly seen it over the last two weeks – his spread and his run,” Lyon said.

“I’m more inclined to back Jack in, to be truthful.” AFL 2023: Max King could return in time for Carlton blockbuster

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