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Sanderson coy on Walker replacement

AFL 2013 NAB Cup Rd 01 - St Kilda v Adelaide
Shaun McKernan is a chance to become Adelaide's go-to forward target
There's some options there - (Shaun) McKernan, Lewis Johnston, (Jason) Porplyzia's not in the side, (Ian Callinan) … it doesn't have to be tall for tall, it might be tall for small
ADELAIDE coach Brenton Sanderson knows who he wants to replace injured superstar Taylor Walker, but is keeping his thoughts to himself.

The Crows coach kept his cards very close to his chest on Wednesday afternoon, refusing to speculate which of Adelaide's remaining key forwards would be presented with an AFL opportunity.

Shaun McKernan and Lewis Johnston are seen as front runners to be brought into the side, but Sanderson kept open the possibility of playing a Carlton-style forward line, stacked with quick and clever small forwards.

"I'm firming myself, but I'll be influenced by the rest of the match committee," Sanderson said.

"There's some options there - (Shaun) McKernan, Lewis Johnston, (Jason) Porplyzia's not in the side, (Ian Callinan) … it doesn't have to be tall for tall, it might be tall for small.

"We've had some great debates already early in the week, but we'll pull the trigger this afternoon on a forward structure for this week against Hawthorn."

Sanderson flagged the possible return of Graham Johncock to defence this weekend, particularly with the injury cloud surrounding small defender Luke Brown.

Johncock starred in the SANFL last weekend, booting five goals.

Brown was concussed in last Saturday's loss to Carlton and although his coach would give him until Friday to prove his fitness, Sanderson admitted he was "a bit of a question mark".

"We'll certainly select him (Brown), but he'll be a player that will still be assessed on Friday," he said.

"Johncock kicked five for his SANFL club last week, but we might need him down back"

The Crows are ranked 13th in the League for marks inside 50, a figure unlikely to be helped by the loss of Walker to a season-ending knee injury.

But while admitting the loss of such a quality forward was a huge setback for the club's attack, Sanderson claimed he was more concerned about how his side would prevent scoring.

"I still don't think attack is an issue for us, I think we can score quite freely," he said.

"We still need goals from midfielders, but what's happening is we're turning the ball over in our back 50, we're not creating turnovers early enough in the chain.

"While the big talks been about Taylor Walker and his replacement, the talk internally has been our defence [and] how we can turn around our defensive transition issues." 

Despite his side's disappointing start to the season, Sanderson insisted he remained "excited" for what it would ultimately hold.

Adelaide's premiership odds lengthened dramatically after Walker's knee injury, but the coach had a message for the doomsayers.   

"I'll never write us off – I'm still really excited about this week and this year," he said.

"The positive energy within the group is still there, the anticipation that we're going to be a good side is still there.

"We're not playing bad footy, we're just not playing good footy for long enough."

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry.