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New hamstring setback for luckless Saint

Saint's blow, Cyril doubts, versatile Hogan Footy Feed with Matt Thompson and Jen Phelan
I think worst case, it's 3-4 weeks until he's back training in whatever capacity that might be, and then he'll get a program to get himself as fit as possible to play matches here at Sandringham in the VFL and hopefully then in the seniors, certainly in the early-to-mid part of the season, for sure.
Simon Lethlean

THE SAINTS are refusing to give up on the prospect of Nathan Freeman making his AFL debut, despite the luckless wingman suffering another hamstring setback that may require surgery. 

Freeman, 22, thought he had corked his troublesome hamstring at training on Friday, but closer examination this week proved otherwise. 

He has suffered yet another strain, despite seeking a second round of specialist treatment from Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt in Germany last November. 

The Saints are now exploring a surgical option to remove a buildup of scar tissue as a possible solution.

Despite the setback, the Saints are refusing to concede the untried ex-Magpie will struggle to ever make it onto an AFL team sheet.

"He was here two weeks ago and played in the match simulation and looked fine, kicked a couple of goals and did a good job, so he's on the mark to be thereabouts," Saints football manager Simon Lethlean told AFL.com.au after the club's Sandringham match practice session on Wednesday morning.

"This setback cruels him a little bit but we're confident he'll keep working away and hopefully this year he gets there because he certainly deserves it.

"He's a much-loved player down here and a resilient kid, and we're looking forward to really supporting him and getting him back on the track as soon as possible."

Nathan Freeman in action for Sandringham in 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

Freeman was drafted by the Magpies with pick No.10 overall in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, and was traded to the Saints two years later having played just four VFL games in the black and white. 

His hamstring issue trickled into his first season as a Saint but was seemingly under control last season as he managed 13 VFL games before an ankle syndesmosis injury ended his year early. 

A pre-Christmas calf niggle was the only hiccup he encountered this pre-season, and he returned to perform well despite limited time during the Saints' match simulation earlier this month. 

Even if surgery is required, Lethlean said there remained a chance Freeman would be available for selection in the early stages of the home and away season, given his positive summer.  

"I think worst case, it's 3-4 weeks until he's back training in whatever capacity that might be, and then he'll get a program to get himself as fit as possible to play matches here at Sandringham in the VFL and hopefully then in the seniors, certainly in the early-to-mid part of the season, for sure," he said. 

Freeman was supposed to play in Wednesday's second match simulation, but instead watched on and helped coach from the sidelines, which Lethlean said was a testament to his character.

"He's had a tough 4-5 years in the AFL system, he's just looking to debut and get a crack at it, and he deserves that," he said.

"He's here today, as he always would be - he's really resilient and strong and a great character, so he deserves a chance."