ST KILDA is keen to retain versatile defender Sam Gilbert beyond the final year of his contract, backing the free agent to rediscover his best football in 2015.
Gilbert has missed a total of 30 games across the past two seasons because of foot and knee injuries, and the 28-year-old remains on a modified program after post-season foot surgery.
Director of coaching Danny Sexton said the Saints were hopeful Gilbert would be available for the round one clash against Greater Western Sydney and remind the competition of his ability.
"Potentially the competition's forgotten about what a really influential player he is," Sexton said on Wednesday. 
"Everyone within the club knows that and I think people in the industry know he's a good player, but he's just been so unfortunate with injuries over the past two or three years.
"We're really looking forward to Sam coming back and helping our defence. He's a terrific leader around the club."
Gilbert is entering his 10th year with St Kilda and will qualify as an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, making him a potential target for club's seeking a tall defender.
Sexton was keen to talk up Gilbert's value at Seaford as a defender who can play all backline roles.   
"We're not going to want good players to leave the club and he's a good player for us and has been over a long period of time," Sexton said. 
"We just hope he can make a contribution this year, we hope he enjoys his time at the Saints, and we hope he can continue to help the young guys improve.
"We hope he sees a future at this club here for him."
Gilbert didn't join his teammates at training on Wednesday, with Tom Hickey (knee), Brodie Murdoch (back) and Jack Lonie (ankle) others on modified programs.
Utility Arryn Siposs underwent surgery in December after re-injuring his shoulder and is still five weeks away from starting his rehab program.