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Cheney looking to stake his claim

Lee Gaskin, AFL Media  February 13, 2018 4:02 PM

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 6: Kyle Cheney of the Crows in action during the Adelaide Crows training session at Football Park on December 6, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 6: Kyle Cheney of the Crows in action during the Adelaide Crows training session at Football Park on December 6, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

After a write-off of a season punctured by groin and hamstring injuries, experienced Adelaide defender Kyle Cheney is ready to once again stake his claim for a permanent spot in the Crows' backline. 

At 28, Cheney is the second-oldest player – only a couple months younger than utility Andy Otten - in an otherwise youthful Crows' squad for the inaugural AFLX tournament at Hindmarsh Stadium on Thursday night.

The quick seven-a-side format probably isn't ideal for medium-sized defenders capable of marking tall and small forwards, but Cheney's happy to simply be pulling on the Crows' jumper again.

He played every game of the 2016 season before a groin injury, followed by a persistent hamstring complaints, kept him sidelined for the majority of last year.

Jake Lever's departure to Melbourne has created a vacancy in the Crows' backline, with Cheney, Otten and 2015 first-round draft pick Tom Doedee the leading candidates to seize the opportunity.

"I had a pretty frustrating year last year, but I'm super excited to get out there and play AFLX against some genuine opposition, not just my teammates," said Cheney, who has played 77 career games across stints with the Crows, Melbourne (2009-10) and Hawthorn (2011-14).

"I've done a fair chunk of the pre-season now.

"I missed the first bit, but I'm up and going and available for selection." 

Cheney's future was uncertain at the end of last season before he put pen to paper on a one-year contract extension close to the list lodgment deadline.

"I just want to get back out and enjoy footy," he said.

"I was lucky enough to get another 12 months at the end of last year.

"Nothing's changed in terms of my role, I'm fit and available for selection."

Otten and fellow defender Jake Kelly are the only two players from last year's losing Grand Final side to Richmond who will front up for AFLX.

Crows coach Don Pyke has instead gone with the likes of youngsters Jordan Gallucci, Ben Davis, Ben Jarman and Jackson Edwards to see what they can do.

"It is a young squad and it's a good opportunity for those blokes to show what they've got," Cheney said.

"Whether it's AFLX or JLT, the main priority is round one of the season proper.

"It's still pre-season, so we'll be managing our loads accordingly.

"Anyone that gets the opportunity to run out there Thursday night is playing for the Crows and playing to win."

Cheney said the Crows had yet to train with the silver footballs that will be used during AFLX.

"I wasn't even aware there were silver balls available," he said.

"We haven't had a kick of those yet, but I'm sure they will be very similar to what we've been training with."