ROSS Lyon expects Tim Membrey to "really deliver" in his AFL comeback as St Kilda seeks to get the most out of the veteran's partnership with fellow key forward Max King.
Membrey has returned to pre-season training after he was a shock late withdrawal before the Saints' elimination final defeat to Greater Western Sydney in September with a personal health issue.
Lyon described it at the time as a "delicate" situation but has since been buoyed by Membrey's recovery.
The 29-year-old managed just seven games last season as he and King battled injuries, their absences leaving a huge workload on the young shoulders of Mitch Owens and Anthony Caminiti.
But Lyon is hopeful of a productive 2024 campaign from his rejuvenated forward mix, with King on the mend after his latest shoulder surgery and Membrey back on track.
"He's in really good shape, he's blossoming, he feels good and he's got a lot of support," Lyon said of Membrey on Wednesday.
"I think that's the beauty and there's no stigma. It's more complicated than it just seems, so we're thrilled with where he's at.
"Our two power forwards basically didn't play (last season) so I think Caminiti and Owens will look forward to playing with them."
A 160-game veteran entering his 11th AFL season, Membrey did not train with teammates at RSEA Park on Wednesday.
"As you get older you get (a bit of) wear and tear, so he's managed today but he basically hasn't missed a session," Lyon said.
"He's four kilos lighter and back to his sort of fighting weight, so to speak, with what he's been in previous years.
"We're really expecting that he can really deliver and he's been a real leader here for a long time."
King, who played 11 games last season, underwent three rounds of shoulder surgery in less than 12 months.
He was on light duties in the Saints' rehab group on Wednesday but is expected back in full training in January.
"The surgeon was pretty conservative and he didn't run for seven weeks (post-surgery) but he's really up and moving now," Lyon said.
"He's certainly had no hiccups and if you think first session last year he dislocated the shoulder and went in for the (operation).
"He's miles ahead and he'll be in full training post-Christmas."
Lyon has seen growing leadership qualities in the 23-year-old, who walked through the doors at Moorabbin five years ago as the anointed long-term successor to record-breaking former captain Nick Riewoldt.
"He's really stepping up in meetings and he doesn't say a lot, Max, but when he talks it sort of carries a bit of weight," Lyon said.
"It's great to see his leadership growing as well."
Saints captain Jack Steele (ankle), Brad Crouch (knee) and Dan Butler (ankle) were also on light duties on Wednesday after post-season surgery but are expected back in full training by January.
Mason Wood (calf), Jack Higgins (back) and Caminiti (hamstring) are also managing niggles.