Ross Lyon has conceded that key forward Max King is a “slim” chance to line up for Thursday’s prime-time match-up against the Western Bulldogs as he battles a knee complaint from the weekend.

King wrenched his knee in a marking contest on the three-quarter time siren during Saturday's game against GWS, coming from the field as the Saints staged a last-ditch fightback to almost pinch the win over the undefeated Giants at Manuka Oval.

However with a second five-day turnaround on the cards heading into this week’s match against the Bulldogs, King is racing the clock to prove his fitness to his senior coach.


“He’s more unlikely than likely. There’s no structural damage. He’s going to move today and if he moves today well (we’ll see), but he’ll have to give me confidence that he’s right to go,” Lyon said at this morning’s press conference.

“I don’t get stuck on one player to be honest. He’s really important to us obviously, but if I worry about who’s here and who’s not… we haven’t worried about it in the past in my time here.

“We’d love him to play, but if he doesn’t I think (Anthony) Caminiti showed in the second half his ability to perform and (Tim) Membrey’s in pretty good nick. We’d love him in, but we’re more than capable.”

King isn’t the only selection component to weigh up at this week’s match committee.

Dougal Howard is in the frame following a successful return from a high-grade hamstring strain via the VFL, notching up 18 disposals, nine marks and seven rebound-50s against the Giants.

The Saints have utilised the defensive tall timber of Zaine Cordy, Josh Battle and vice-captain Callum Wilkie in his absence, with the possibility of bringing in Howard to combat the Dogs’ offensive of Aaron Naughton, Sam Darcy and Jamara Ugle-Hagan alive.

Cordy has the ability to swing forward as he did last season to potentially make room for Howard down back, however with Caminiti, Membrey and Mitch Owens manning the Saints’ own attack, room in the side is increasingly tight.

“We really value (Dougal) and (the Dogs) are really tall with Naughton, Darcy and Ugle-Hagan all really capable,” Lyon said.

We’re sort of tossing up ‘do we bring in an extra tall defender?’. It’s a little bit hard because we feel like Cordy, Wilkie and Battle are in pretty good form, so it’s something we are discussing.

- Ross Lyon

“That’s the question. It’s hard because we want him back in, but then it’s like ‘can you get too tall?’ and if people are performing down there, that’s the hard bit.”

The Western Bulldogs have been the centre of external conversation this week after dropping its past two matches; the most recent of which coming against Essendon on Friday night.

But Lyon isn’t buying into any of the noise surrounding the red, white and blue heading into Thursday evening, expecting the opposition to come out swinging under lights.

“The season still, for all of us, is panning out and there’s early judgements made. But that’s the job, that’s the interest and that’s the noise,” Lyon said.

“But if you really drill in, they’re really capable and they’re good and sometimes you just have some moments - particularly early in the season - when you’re trying to button down everything. We’re expecting their best.

“It’s like us, is it half-full or half-empty? We’re both around the mark and we’re both trying to improve. Both clubs understand we’re not a top-four consistent performer but we’re trying to work and (have) that growth mindset to get there.”

The Saints sit level with the Bulldogs in terms of premiership points, having lost to the Cats, Bombers and Giants by a combined 13 points to sit with a 2-3 ledger after five rounds.

Although mounting a heart-racing comeback from the clouds last week in similar fashion to its Gather Round triumph over Richmond, the chase for consistency is paramount for Lyon as opposed to the promising signs shown from late revivals.

“In the end it’s hard work, system, capability and the ability to do it for longer than the opposition. We’re going to live in that space again,” Lyon said.

“We know we never give up, but we’re disappointed with our inconsistency. Not disappointed, frustrated probably.

“For our fans and members, we’re working hard. How do you look at it? Eight points, four points, one point… we want to be brave emotionally from the start. We don’t want to be a come-from-five-goals-down team and have an honourable loss because it’s not brave enough.”