CLUNES speedster Sam Baird will make his return to football official in tonight’s Anzac Day clash against Bungaree.
Baird has been named to play his first game of the Central Highlands Football League season since deciding to put his running career on the backburner.
Injury has ensured a slow start to the campaign for Baird, who ran at the Stawell Gift meeting last weekend ahead of his football comeback.
Baird’s decision to focus on football this season has meant he has already relinquished what would have been guaranteed selection in the Australian team for the IAAF World Junior Championships in the USA in July and also ruled a line through earlier aspirations to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
“He had a quadriceps strain coming off his athletics. He has only trained the last week-and-a-half as far as football goes, but he has continued with his running training,” Clunes coach Jason Hill said.
“He will continue to do that because I think he wants to keep a finger in each pie.
“Sam will give us four quarters of run and carry and it’s hard to get that.
“The fitness level of him is probably beyond most of our team and he finds the footy really well.
“He will be given a free rein, basically, to run up and down the wing all day and carry as long and as much as he can.”
Baird is one of a few key ins for a Magpies side chasing its first win of the season, with boom recruit Michael McKenzie set to make his debut for the club.
McKenzie had a knee reconstruction during the off-season before officially joining the Magpies from Buninyong.
Big ruckman Lindsay Barry and defender Michael Milne are among those also named in the team.
Meanwhile, top Bungaree midfielder Ricky Cummins’ season is in doubt after a shoulder dislocation.
Demons coach Greg Middleton said Cummins could potentially require surgery following the injury, sustained in the win over Newlyn before the Easter break.
That has left Bungaree unbeaten after a round one victory over Gordon.