AFL: Ross Lyon tells St Kilda players not to overtarget Max King

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St Kilda coach Ross Lyon says he wants his side to continue to look for avenues to goal outside of Max King as the key forward returns from suspension on Sunday.

Lyon said he was pleased with the forward half “sizzle” the Saints continued to show in their round 3 loss to Essendon and had no serious concerns over the state of their game plan despite a 1-2 start to the season.

The Saints had 51 forward entries to Essendon’s 53 on Saturday but only managed to kick 9.13 as King was absent with a one-match ban for striking.

Lyon urged his midfielders to continue to “scan and look” for free players rather than bombing the ball on top of King against a Richmond defence boasting interceptor Nick Vlastuin in rare form.

“You’ve got to use the ball well, you’ve got to bring it to ground. (Vlastuin) will have his moments, but we’ve got to make sure we have more moments,” Lyon said on Friday.

“Regardless of Max, I thought we had opportunities last week. We want to become an ‘every time’ team that looks and sees options, so it’s about improvement.

“It’s great to have Max back, but it’s not about Max, that ball could’ve gone to 17 other players, we all want to scan and look and see the free players.”

Lyon said St Kilda’s game was in “good order” and set to be bolstered with the impending availability of players including Paddy Dow, who is yet to make his club debut after battling a knee injury over summer.

“I think it’s pretty healthy, 1-2, to be honest. We’re clear on some areas where we need to improve. Eight points and four points (margins), in both games we had opportunities and we didn’t close out late,” he said.

“Our game is in good order if you’re talking about possession game. Scoring, someone said we’ve got a lot of sizzle, probably too much sizzle at times.

“Our availability is going to be increasing, there are guys making ground quickly like (Jack) Hayes and (Paddy) Dow.”

Lyon said the Saints were also preparing for the demands of a narrow Norwood Oval as opponent Richmond marked different boundary lines at Punt Road to acclimatise to the dimensions.

“Geelong’s ground was the narrowest ground in (the AFL) at 116m (Norwood is 110m) – it’s a narrow ground but it’s long, I know it’s got a couple of goalposts either end, a number of umpires running around … I don’t complicate it much mate, it is what it is, and we’re looking forward to the contest,” he said.

“We’d play on asphalt this week to be honest … remember that? Pebbles, schoolyard … we’re excited about Gather Round.”