Having already lost one prized recruit in Jake Carlisle for the year to suspension, St Kilda has been forced to go slowly with its other off-season recruit, Nathan Freeman, with ongoing injury management.
The injury-troubled young former Magpie will not play in the pre-season and his early part of the season is in doubt with ongoing hamstring trouble.
Freeman suffered a hamstring injury in December just as he was approaching joining the main group for full training.
Fortunately for St Kilda it was in a different part of the hamstring than that which had given him trouble over two years at Collingwood.
The Saints have strenuously denied that Freeman has injured his hamstring for a second time since arriving at the club but they are taking a slow and cautious approach with him.
Coach Alan Richardson has said the 20-year-old will not play in the pre-season competition and is uncertain to be available in the early home and away rounds.
Freeman played one NAB Cup game for Collingwood before being injured but is yet to make his AFL debut.
"We're going to be really conservative with Freezer. He's a young man that hasn't played footy for a couple of years. He's exactly what we need to complement Dunstan, Armitage and Seb Ross ... But he's going to take a while, so we certainly won't rush him," Saints coach Alan Richardson told SEN radio.
"He possibly could play, but we just need to make sure we get really significant miles into the legs so when the load really does step up on game day, he's right to go and he's not at risk."
Young forward Paddy McCartin, the number one draft pick from two years ago was managed conservatively last year, with a taste of AFL football in three matches.
"I'd be disappointed if he didn't play more senior footy this year. He's much fitter, he's certainly much stronger and he's much more robust to be able to play AFL footy," he said.
"The reality is we probably put him in a bit early last year. But, he's still got a fair way to go as we know with big forwards."
Richardson remained disappointed in the loss of Carlisle for the year but staunch that the player had been recruited for the long term.
"Our plan for Jake all along was long term. Of course, we wanted him to play this year, but we want him to be really strong when we're incredibly strong and challenging. In some ways the fact that the contract starts at the end of this year ... it certainly doesn't hurt us."
Michael Gleeson is a senior AFL football writer and Fairfax Media's athletics writer. He also covers tennis, cricket and other sports. He won the AFL Players Association Grant Hattam Trophy for excellence in journalism for the second time in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2014 Quill Awards for best sports feature writer. He was also a finalist in the 2014 Australian Sports Commission awards for his work on ‘Boots for Kids’. He is a winner of the AFL Media Association award for best news reporter and a two-time winner of Cricket Victoria’s cricket writer of the year award. Michael has covered multiple Olympics, Commonwealth Games and world championships and 15 seasons of AFL, He has also written seven books - five sports books and two true crime books.
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