K rock Football

Lions set for influx of returns

Trent West will return to the Leopold line-up when the GFL season resumes. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

LEOPOLD will welcome back at least six first-choice players when the GFL season resumes.

The Lions, who have used more players than any other club in the competition in 2021, have just one win for the season.

Among those missing from Leopold’s first defeat in nine years by Geelong West before the season was put on hold were captain Sam Scott, ruck Trent West, defender Andrew Pepper, suspended forward Mitch Patten, recruit James Cleaver and Geelong VFL-listed Liam Herbert.

Rookie coach Jason Tom admits he wasn’t keen for the season to be paused as a result of the COVID-enforced lockdown of Victoria.

“I don’t know if I would say we were screaming out for a week off,” he said.

“We found we’re very close to our best footy, and it’s probably a bit disappointing not to play.

“But, in the same breath, I’m sure the boys that have played every game will be thankful for a rest to freshen up.”

It’s not all good news for the Lions, with Jayden Exell to miss the rest of the season with a broken hand and recruit Mitch Burgess facing the prospect of surgery on an ankle injury suffered against Bell Park.

“It’s disappointing for Burg,” Tom said. “He did a hamstring at training after the Newtown game where he was by far our best player on the ground, and I think would have played VFL that weekend.

“Then he’s come back against Bell Park and hurt his ankle.

“He’s understandably very flat because he was pretty stiff to miss out at Geelong in the early rounds just through availability.

“But, he is only 19, and he’s a terrific young fella.”

Tom admits the Lions could be better placed than 1-5, with three of its losses coming by four points or less.

“In fairness, the Newtown game would have an absolute steal if we had pinched that, so I wouldn’t count that in,” he said.

“We definitely had our chances against Bell Park and Geelong West, and we didn’t get over the line.

“It could have been different, but it gives us some belief we’re not too far away from it despite what our win-loss record says.

“We’re keen to play more footy because we don’t think we’re far away from getting some solid wins on the board.”

Leopold is due to host Colac when the season resumes.

Twitter: @tom_king79