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Saints’ King, Jones back in AFL action

Max King and Zak Jones will return to bolster undermanned St Kilda as they look to build on a gritty round-one triumph in Saturday night’s AFL clash with Melbourne.

The star pair missed last week’s win over GWS as part of a lengthy injury list that still includes Dan Hannebery, James Frawley, Rowan Marshall and Jarryn Geary.

Veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder is also absent on personal leave.

But the cavalry is gradually returning with King (concussion) and Jones (hamstring) both cleared to play against the Demons at Marvel Stadium.

Coach Brett Ratten said the Saints will walk taller with key forward King back in the side as the focal point in attack.

The 20-year-old was ruled out through concussion last week after being struck on the head by a golf ball in a freak accident.

“He’s starting to really come out of his shell with every performance,” Ratten said on Friday.

“As a young player you just want to get consistency in your performance and he’s doing that.

“He’s got leadership qualities … and he is a big presence.

“The ball-carriers see him, he attracts the eye, so they kick the ball to him a fair bit because of his presence.

“It will be good to have him in the team but we can’t just all go through Max King – we need to make sure that the others are having a say.”

King will line up alongside Tim Membrey in attack after the latter kicked three goals in a match-winning performance in the victory over GWS last week.

Experienced speedster Jones will bolster a midfield unit that held its own against the Giants and is preparing for another tough test against Melbourne.

“When you’ve got Christian Petraca, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney there’s going to be bulls going at it and smashing heads with Jack Steele and co,” Ratten said.

“It’s going to be important that we get our hands on the ball and just as important is how you exit the stoppage and use the footy.”

The absence of first-choice ruck pairing Ryder and Marshall leaves inexperienced Paul Hunter and part-time ruckman Shaun McKernan to take on Melbourne star Max Gawn and emerging prodigy Luke Jackson.

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