x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Big eight back for Saints

Fresh after their teammates took care of Hawthorn in Tasmania last weekend, eight of St Kilda's top players are set to return for tomorrow's match against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

Fresh after their teammates took care of Hawthorn in Tasmania last weekend, eight of St Kilda's top players are set to return for tomorrow's match against Essendon at Etihad Stadium. In a glorious tribute to modern sports medicine, captain Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna, Brendon Goddard, Nick Dal Santo, Sam Fisher, Steve Baker, Lenny Hayes and Sam Gilbert have all been named as fit to start.

It was a much less glorious tribute to the Hawks - last year's premier - that the Saints chose to rest seven of those eight, with Gilbert already injured, for that round. With three rounds to go, the Bombers look like the only team left with a shadow of hope of stopping the Saints making a clean sweep of the home-and-away season. The list of returnees is a little less impressive for the Bombers. Andrew Welsh has been named in the forward pocket, while Andrew Lovett, Tom Bellchambers and Cale Hooker have been named on the extended interchange bench.

Collingwood should be able to keep hold of third spot on the ladder after taking on Richmond today, but the Magpies' power forward Anthony Rocca looks like spending another week in the VFL before playing only his fourth game of the season next week. The Western Bulldogs need a win to cling to a top four spot when they meet fifth-placed Brisbane. The Dogs have named the clever Robert Murphy, bustling forward Scott Welsh and young talent Liam Picken.

The Lions have included Travis Johnstone to replace Troy Selwood, who was omitted with neck soreness. Another two of the top eight sides, Carlton (sixth) and the erratic Port Adelaide (eighth) meet at AAMI Stadium tomorrow. pstafford@thenational.ae