Jack Sinclair in action during round 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

ST KILDA will be without dual All-Australian Jack Sinclair for Saturday night's clash against Geelong.

Sinclair has been battling a calf injury over the pre-season and while he re-joined the main group at training this week, coach Ross Lyon has confirmed he won't be fit to take on the Cats.

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The Saints dealt with a horror run of injuries in 2023 and the silver lining was the unearthing of an array of young talent that should be better for the experience.

Mitch Owens, Anthony Caminiti, Mattaes Phillipou, Cooper Sharman, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Marcus Windhager, among others, are all poised to take the next step this year.


But injuries have already thrown up hurdles again this year, with Sinclair (calf) and key defender Dougal Howard (hamstring) among those sidelined this week.

Lyon has backed Zaine Cordy to fill a breach left by Howard as the Saints seek to blunt Geelong's star tall forwards Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron.

"Last time Cordy played and played well," Lyon said of a win over Geelong in August last year.

"We're fortunate to have both (Howard and Cordy). They both bring different strengths but they're both really good key defenders within our system.

"We're confident that Cordy will stand up."

Zaine Cordy in action during the round 24 match between Brisbane and St Kilda at The Gabba on August 26, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The club has already confirmed prized draftee Darcy Wilson will make his debut, while axed Port Adelaide defender Riley Bonner will also play his first game for his new club.

Former Fremantle wingman Liam Henry will also make his Saints debut.

Lyon isn't concerned with critics' predictions St Kilda will slide down the ladder in his second season back at the helm of the club, nor is he bothered by talk of pressure to back up last year's unexpected surge into their first genuine home final in more than a decade.

The 57-year-old has outlined three key areas - efficiency in attack, stoppage work and being more aggressive in defence - for improvement this season.

"Nobody tipped us last year to make the eight but if I spent my time pondering everyone's summaries about us and predictions, I wouldn't get much work done," Lyon said.

"It's not my job but it creates great interest.

"I remember driving to round one (last year against) Fremantle. I hadn't coached for three years, I sort of felt some pressure.

"It's always there. If you're an AFL coach, club or player there's always expectation - particularly expectation on effort.

"We pride ourselves on effort and never giving up and I thought we did that (last year). If that's one of our measures, that will be the aim again."

Ross Lyon at St Kilda's team photo day on February 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Lyon acknowledged the difficult task facing his side first-up in 2024, with a sell-out crowd of around 40,000 tipped to be on hand as Geelong open the new Joel Selwood Stand at their refurbished home ground.

"There's nowhere to hide in this competition," Lyon said.

"Really good teams win anywhere - they get on the road and they win, they stand up.

"But it's not even about the winning really. We want to win but we want to play our brand, our footy and make our supporters proud."