ST KILDA is hopeful Paddy McCartin can return before the end of the NAB Challenge, confident the hamstring injury he suffered against North Melbourne on Saturday is minor.
McCartin left the ground at the 10-minute mark of the first quarter of the game at Wangaratta's Norm Minns Oval and did not return.
Click here for full match coverage and stats
But St Kilda assistant coach Danny Sexton, who was in charge in the Saints coach's box on Saturday, did not rule out McCartin returning in time for the Saints' next pre-season game against the Brisbane Lions on March 6.
"He'll get monitored throughout the week. First game of the year, it clearly wasn't worth risking sending him back out there but he was just a little bit tight in the hamstring," Sexton said after the match.
"The doctors have said they'll monitor his condition throughout the week and no doubt when these things happen they get scans and he'll be assessed in the right way.
"An assessment will be made on (on his return date) when they have more information."
Sexton said the Saints had been hoping to use Saturday's game to trial McCartin in attack alongside fellow tall Josh Bruce, after the pair had worked well alongside each other in the club's intra-club game last Friday.
"We had a really good look at how they worked together last week and it was effective," Sexton said.
"Probably for us and our fans we were excited to see how they would jell today especially with the little nippy blokes getting around at their feet, Billings, (Jack) Lonie and (Jack) Sinclair.
"Clearly with Nick (Riewoldt) not there today it gave an opportunity for (Tom) Hickey as the second ruckman and McCartin and Bruce.
"To not have Paddy after the first 10 minutes of the game was disappointing."
After getting out to a 13-point lead midway through the second quarter, the Saints, who rested Jack Steven and Jack Billings in the second half, fell away after the main break to lose to North by 44 points
Sexton conceded the absence of Steven and Billings, whose midfield work in the second term sparked the Saints' best patch of the game, left the Saints "a little bit bare" in the second half.
"In a nutshell, (we were) happy with how we started, disappointed with the third quarter (when North kicked seven goals to one). We'll take our lessons out of that," Sexton said.
"How we finished was adequate, North didn't blow us away."
Sexton said the performance of debutant Jade Gresham, the Saints' first pick in last year's national draft at No.18 overall, had been "quite positive".
Gresham finished with 11 touches and four inside 50s rotating between the forward line and midfield, showing glimpses of the speed and class the Saints hope will complement the inside work of players such as Luke Dunstan and Seb Ross.
Sexton said a host of senior players including Nick Riewoldt, Jarryn Geary, Sam Fisher and Dylan Roberton would likely return for the Saints' clash against the Lions in two weeks' time.