Peter Ryan – The Age
Melbourne have named speedy forward Oskar Baker to play his first game under lights on Friday night against West Coast, as the Demons chase an upset victory away from home against the defending premiers.
Three of the Demons changes were forced, with Jordan Lewis, Michael Hibberd and Jake Melksham out injured, while they dropped Declan Keilty after two games including Baker, Alex Neal-Bullen, Tim Smith and Harrison Petty to replace them.
Baker, a speedy forward dubbed “the Ginger Ninja” at his NEAFL club, has been in great form with the Casey Demons in recent weeks.
Baker was chosen with pick 48 at the 2017 national draft after playing football for Aspley in the NEAFL where he earned the nickname due to his red hair and speed around goals.
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.