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Wednesday, 14th May, 2014

By Peter Argent

The long awaited return of Taylor Walker to the Adelaide Crows line up is imminent.

Adelaide’s cult hero and power forward will return for the vital clash against Collingwood tomorrow night under lights at Adelaide Oval.

The 24-year-old, who as a part of his preparation trained at North Broken Hill last Thursday night, has been away from top level football for 383 days.

He injured his knee in round five of the 2013 campaign against Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, April 27.

The Crows are endeavouring to lower the pressure of expectation on Walker.

“He will give us a big boost up forward and just having him in the side sparks the boys up, but to put all our hopes on Tex (Walker) is unrealistic,” future leader at West Lakes, Brodie Smith said.

“He’s not going to come in and set the world on fire straight away.

“It will take a bit of time to get back to his best.

“But he has played really good footy in the SANFL, so who knows, he might come out and play really well.

“Hopefully he does.”

This is a critical game for the Crows, who are currently in the middle of the pack, with three wins and four losses, including the unexpected defeat against Melbourne just before the bye.

Along with a extensive rehabilitation program, Walker has played two games at SANFL league level for the Crows, kicking three goals against Glenelg on ANZAC evening and having a four-goal haul in his trip to Clare on Sunday, May 4, when they played the top of the ladder, Port Adelaide Magpies, and he beat the Power-listed key defender Tom Clurey.

Walker’s injury was among 23 ACL reconstructions last year, according the “AFL Injury Survey” released last week.

Knee ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) incidence of new injuries was high last year, but in keeping with the rates of recent years.

Twenty-three ACL “recos” was the highest over the last 10 years, compared with 16 in 2012, and 20 in 2011.

In 2010, along with 2004, the AFL had the lowest with nine.

The coaching and medical staff at Adelaide could not have been any more conservative with Taylor Walker’s preparation and return.

This opening match of round nine of the AFL starts at 7.20pm central standard time.

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