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St Kilda Saints, Max King injury, forward line woes, premiership chances, 2023 season, Kane Cornes, Josh Kennedy, retirement, West Coast Eagles

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St Kilda can almost “put a line” through their finals hopes in 2023, footy commentator Kane Cornes has warned after the serious injury to young gun Max King.

The Saints confirmed the key forward would undergo a shoulder reconstruction after injuring it in a marking contest at training on Monday.

Cornes believes the club will struggle to find a forward who can have the same impact King does for the Saints.

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“Is he the player from any team across the competition that any team could least afford to lose?” he questioned on SEN.

“He had 93 shots on goal last year – the talk about his inaccuracy was there, but he had the shots.

“The next best was Tim Membrey with 40 less shots on goal. Then you go to Jack Higgins and you go to Dan Butler.

“You almost put a line through their finals chances on the back of this.”

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Cornes also feared for the 22-year-old’s long-term future in the game, given how the injury came about at training.

“There’s starting to be a body of work with his body that would have me really nervous – for a player that is absolutely your marquee product and your future hinges on him,” he said.

It is expected King would be sidelined until at least May.

Given the extended period the Saints now face without a key forward, Cornes said coach Ross Lyon needed to get on the phone to ex-Eagle Josh Kennedy.

“I’ve got a task for one coach, and that is get on the phone and get Josh Kennedy out of retirement and that coach is Ross Lyon,” he said.

Ross Lyon watches on as Max King runs out onto the track. Picture: Quinn RooneySource: Getty Images

“I said it when he retired, I spoke about it during Trade Radio – Fremantle should be on the phone, Essendon should be, Melbourne should be, I mentioned Collingwood.

“The reason they moved on from Brett Ratten is they said, ‘this list is better than what we’ve delivered’. They’ve said we don’t want to be stuck between six and 10 (on the ladder).

“They have to play finals – otherwise there’s egg on the face of those who have made this decision to resign and sack Brett Ratten.

“Kennedy, clearly it’s his body and he’s spoken about his debilitating knee injury that he’s got. But if the call hasn’t been made yet, it needs to be made. He kicked 37 goals from 15 games last year.

“Josh Kennedy is still a top 10 key forward in the competition.

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“Can you imagine if you put him into a decent side, you sold him a really good wage, a prospect of a job after football – you say, ‘you’ll play 12 to 15 games, we’ll manage you’ – the Saints can’t afford to miss the finals.

“Right now they are facing the prospect without Max King of a pretty disappointing year I would think.”

The 35-year-old Kennedy kicked a remarkable eight goals in his final game this year, and aside from a business venture in WA’s south, is yet to announce what comes next.

Cornes also said the likes of ex-Bomber Michael Hurley or ex-Saint Paddy Ryder could also fill the void left by King’s injury.

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