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Walsh impressed, patient with Lever

May 1, 2015 12:39 PM

Jake Lever   (Photo: Adelaide Crows FC)

Jake Lever (Photo: Adelaide Crows FC)

At the start of the year, I probably didn’t think he’d play senior (AFL) footy this season. Now, it looks like he will at some stage.

Coach Phil Walsh believes Jake Lever is edging closer to an AFL debut, but says the developing defender won’t be rushed.

Lever, 19 was selected with Adelaide’s first pick (No.14 overall) in last year’s AFL National Draft.

The promising teenager has only played a handful of games in the past 18 months after rupturing his ACL training with the AIS-AFL Academy at the end of 2013. He missed the entire 2014 TAC Cup season, making his long-awaited comeback in a trial match for Adelaide’s SANFL team in March.

Lever has impressed in the Club’s three SANFL matches, named in the best players the past two weeks. In spite of his lean frame, the 194cm Calder Cannons recruit has held down Adelaide’s key-defensive post in the local league.

He’s displayed his trademark competitiveness, smarts and leadership in the inexperienced Crows backline. Walsh said he’d been pleased with Lever’s progress.

“We’ve been really happy with Jake. What’s happened with a couple of injuries to James Podsiadly, Sam Shaw and Andy Otten is that Jake has been holding our back six together in the State League,” Walsh said on FIVEaa.

“Jake was really good again (against Glenelg) on Friday night but it wasn’t bad for defenders with those conditions. We’re really happy with how he’s coming along. Let’s remember, he’s coming off an ACL injury.

“At the start of the year, I probably didn’t think he’d play senior (AFL) footy this season. Now, it looks like he will at some stage.”

Adelaide’s SANFL defence will be bolstered by the inclusion of Kyle Hartigan for Saturday night’s clash with South Adelaide. Another of the Club’s 2014 draftees, Mitch McGovern, and trade-period recruit Luke Lowden will make their SANFL debuts this weekend.

Ticketed Crows members receive free entry to the Club’s SANFL matches.