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Round nine teams: Melbourne to unleash the Ginger Ninja


He was close to a debut during his first season last year but a hamstring injury ended his chances.

However he has been in Casey’s best players in the past two matches so will be hoping to add some spark to the Demons’ forward line, which has struggled to convert their opportunities.

Baker had a breakout season in the NEAFL in 2017 when he won goal of the year and threw himself in front of AFL recruiters with his chance to realise his AFL dream coming just nine days ahead of his 21st birthday.

Melbourne are playing catch-up football this season having won just three of their first eight games but with two narrow victories on the trot they are keeping their season alive under duress, with the Eagles’ strengthened by the return of premiership forward Willie Rioli.

Essendon made five changes after two disappointing losses on the trot with David Myers, Zac Clarke and Brayden Ham being dropped, while the club also lost key players Devon Smith and Orazio Fantasia to injury.

The Bombers hopes of beating the Dockers at Marvel Stadium were boosted when they recalled Joe Daniher and included pressure forward Mark Baguley alongside Ben McNiece, Kyle Langford and Josh Begley for the must win clash against the Dockers.

Begley has not played since last year’s Anzac Day clash when he suffered a knee injury that required an ACL reconstruction.

The Dockers dropped former Bomber Travis Colyer and Ryan Nyhuis for the match, with Connor Blakely back alongside Taylin Duman. Blakely has not played since midway through last season.

Geelong have named ruckman Darcy Fort to make his debut against the Western Bulldogs, deciding to rest key forward Esava Ratugolea, who returned from a broken leg this season.

They regain their skipper Joel Selwood with the unlucky Charlie Constable making way after being a late inclusion against North Melbourne last Sunday.

The Western Bulldogs made no changes, with Luke Beveridge keeping faith again with the team that has shown good form in recent weeks.

Richmond named Riley Collier-Dawkins and Callum Coleman-Jones in extended squads alongside Nick Vlastuin and Ivan Soldo, who are expected to be certain starters.

The injured pair Toby Nankervis and Jack Ross will miss.

Carlton lost Tom Williamson and Lachie Plowman but hope to get back Nic Newman from injury, naming the talented back pocket in their squad to play Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.

Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.

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