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Melbourne Football Club

Clisby to debut against Saints

He’s produced some strong performances at SANFL level in the past few years and he’s continued his consistent form at Casey, where he created a lot of good run off half-back.
Josh Mahoney on Mitch Clisby

NOMINATED rookie Mitch Clisby will make his AFL debut this Saturday against St Kilda at the MCG, after he was one of four inclusions for Melbourne’s first match under new coach Neil Craig.

Forward Shannon Byrnes, big man Spencer and defender Daniel Nicholson have also been recalled, but the Demons have lost ruckman Mark Jamar (toe), leader Jordie McKenzie (elbow) and midfielder Michael Evans (foot). Small utility Luke Tapscott has been left out of the side.

Rookie James Magner, versatile tall James Sellar and giant Max Gawn are the emergencies.

Acting football general manager Josh Mahoney said it was disappointing to lose three players through injury.

“Mark and Michael have foot and toe injuries and unfortunately we’ve had a few of these things, which are not unique to our club, but we are investigating the potential causes for this trend of injury,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“Jordie had a hyperextension of his elbow against Collingwood, but unfortunately the time between games was not enough time for him to be available this week.

“We’re hoping Jordie will be available next week.”

Clisby was named as Melbourne’s mid-season nominated rookie on Thursday afternoon, meaning he will be eligible to play in the AFL for the rest of the season.

The 23-year-old has produced some fine performances across half-back for Casey this year. He landed the final spot on Melbourne’s list this season, when he was claimed at No.19 in last December’s NAB AFL Rookie Draft.

Originally from Broken Hill, Clisby grew up with close friend Adelaide sharpshooter Taylor Walker, before playing the past four seasons with North Adelaide in the SANFL. He blossomed under ex-Port Adelaide star Josh Francou.

“It’s a great opportunity for Mitch to debut this week,” he said.

“He’s produced some strong performances at SANFL level in the past few years and he’s continued his consistent form at Casey, where he created a lot of good run off half-back.

“We’re looking forward to seeing him do this at AFL level.”

Byrnes has played eight matches for Melbourne, since crossing from Geelong at the end of last season. But he has made just one appearance since round seven, after missing two separate matches with a wrist injury. His most recent match was with Casey.

Spencer has been on the cusp of selection all season, having been an emergency every match, except rounds six and seven, when he played for the Demons. The only time he wasn’t in the 25 was Melbourne’s most recent clash against Collingwood in round 12.

Nicholson has featured in six games this year, with his round nine appearance against Fremantle his most recent.

Mahoney said Spencer had earned his spot after some impressive form for Casey.

“Jake Spencer has been playing very well for a number of weeks now at VFL level,” he said.

“His ruck work and ability to push up forward and have shots at goal has been a highlight.

“He gets his opportunity through Mark Jamar’s injury.”

Melbourne round 13 team
B: Lynden Dunn, Colin Garland, Dean Terlich
HB: Tom McDonald, Cam Pedersen, Mitch Clisby
C: Jeremy Howe, Jack Trengove, Matt Jones
HF: Aaron Davey, Chris Dawes, Sam Blease
F: Shannon Byrnes, Colin Sylvia, David Rodan
FOLL: Jake Spencer, Jack Watts, Nathan Jones
I/C: Jimmy Toumpas, Daniel Nicholson, Dean Kent, Jack Fitzpatrick
EMG: James Magner, James Sellar, Max Gawn
IN: Shannon Byrnes, Mitch Clisby, Jake Spencer, Daniel Nicholson
OUT: Mark Jamar (toe), Jordie McKenzie (elbow), Michael Evans (foot), Luke Tapscott
NEW: Mitch Clisby (North Adelaide)