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Demons favourite Pickett lauded ahead of AFL milestone

3 minute read

Kysaiah Pickett will play his 100th game when Melbourne take on Essendon in a clash that will have ramifications for both sides' AFL finals hopes.

KYSAIAH PICKETT.
KYSAIAH PICKETT. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has lauded Kysaiah Pickett as one of the AFL's great entertainers ahead of the livewire's 100th game.

Pickett showcased his box-office attributes last week, taking a perfect ride on the shoulders of West Coast's Josh Rotham to haul in a mark-of-the-year contender.

The 23-year-old, who also kicked two goals in the big win over the Eagles, will help pull a crowd through the gates for his milestone match when the Demons take on Essendon at the MCG on Saturday night.

The fixture will have ramifications for both sides' finals hopes as they fight for positions in the top eight.

"Buddy Franklin, Cyril Rioli, Gary Ablett Jnr ... they bring people to the game to go and watch them specifically, and he (Pickett) is one of those players because of the skill set that he's got," Goodwin said on Wednesday.

"We've been fortunate to have him for 100 games of footy so far in his career.

"He's just excelled and grown and continues to get better."

Pickett, who featured in Melbourne's 2021 premiership side, has stepped up to help fill the huge void left by Christian Petracca since the superstar midfielder-forward sustained season-ending injuries last month.

"These are the opportunities that get presented to you and we're trying to maximise his ability for us, both through the middle of the ground and also forward of centre," Goodwin said.

"He's in some really good form at the moment and he's worked really hard to get himself into the position that he is.

"We feel like we're going to get the best footy out of him going forward for the rest of the year."

Goodwin said Petracca had recovered well from surgery over the weekend to remove his appendix.

The 28-year-old's latest setback is unrelated to the lacerated spleen, punctured lung and four broken ribs he suffered in a collision with Collingwood's Darcy Moore last month.

Those injuries ended Petracca's season early in a huge blow to Melbourne's finals hopes.

In another setback, fellow premiership player Charlie Spargo has also been ruled out for the rest of the season with an achilles issue.

The 24-year-old has been sidelined since the opening round of the year.

"It's shattering for us and for Charlie," Goodwin said.

"He's really struggled with his achilles this year and we've tried multiple things to get it right, and it's come to a point where surgery is the best option left for us."

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