The Saints have a King-sized forward problem

Max King won’t put a timeframe on when he might return, while Tim Membrey is more hopeful than optimistic of being fit for round one as St Kilda coach Ross Lyon crafts a bandaid forward line without the key targets.

King is recovering from a shoulder reconstruction and was pencilled in for a return about round seven, but the full-forward said he was not locked into a timeframe. A silver lining of his time in recovery was that he felt stronger after time in the gym.

Max King will miss the start of the season.Credit:AFL Photos

The Saints will be without King, probably Membrey and small forward Jack Billings, who suffered a fractured leg last week and will be out for eight weeks. Versatile big man Jack Hayes is also sidelined with a foot injury.

In his opening game returning as Saints coach, Lyon will be forced to fashion a forward line that in the best-case scenario will have just an underdone Membrey.

Former Bulldog Zaine Cordy will be tried up forward at his new club St Kilda Credit:Getty

Recruit Zaine Cordy and regular key backman Dougal Howard were both used as key forwards in the opening practice match against Melbourne as the Saints looked to find a forward target.

“It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for someone to grab early on in the season. So whoever it is, Dougal or Zaine, up there – Mitch Owens can play that role as well. As long as they’re competing and bringing the ball to ground we’ve still got some dangerous small forwards that can certainly hit the scoreboard,” Membrey said.

“I think it’s always a goal even when ‘Maxy’ is out there too. His role is simply to compete, bring the ball to ground and if he marks it, great, but that has not changed.”

Membrey said he was hopeful of being fit for round one but the club would not push it.

“It’s coming along really well. I got out yesterday, had a bit of a trot. It’s feeling good so it’s still a couple of weeks away, but it’s on the right way,” Membrey said on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s something that we really need to push. If it does get dicey, it’s a long season and so like I said, I’m on here to play footy, that’s what I want to do, I will be trying my best but if it falls that way then we’ll just have to deal with it and hopefully be right for round two.”

King was less certain of his timeframe for return.

“I don’t have a specific round in mind. For me it’s just week to week improving. It’s been really smooth so far. So just keep attacking what’s in front of me and we’ll see how it goes, no specific date yet.

“I have started to do a bit more footy stuff now. And you know, each week you hit a new milestone where you can chip away and do some different things.

“If there’s a bit of a silver lining, I’ve spent more time in the gym and I guess early days with the shoulder we can’t really do much about the body stuff. Good opportunity to smash into the leg weights and try and stay strong and put some size on

“It’s hard to tell [if he is stronger in marking contests], I always sort of forget what it felt like to be fully healthy. But I feel good out there. I feel powerful.

“I feel like I’m not going to miss heaps of footy. So there’s still that incentive to work hard and get back.”

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