THE DROPPING of talented St Kilda forward Jack Billings could be a "circuit-breaker" for the out-of-form left-footer, Saints coach Alan Richardson says.

Billings was dumped from the side to face Sydney at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night after averaging 19 disposals through 11 games this season.

Billings starred last year, playing every match and notching up 23 disposals per week while polling 11 votes in the Brownlow Medal.

Richardson said he still held high hopes for the 22-year-old, who was drafted with the No.3 selection in 2013.

"This will be a moment that Jack looks back on his career and probably would rather it didn't happen, but it's been potentially a circuit-breaker to just get him back into form," Richardson told reporters at RSEA Park on Friday.

"I think it's as simple as that.

"We think Billings has got some really exciting footy for a long time ahead of him, and if you look across the competition, there would be some pretty good players not picked this week. That's all it is, really."

Inconsistency was a reason Billings was omitted, and he will represent Sandringham on Sunday afternoon at Trevor Barker Oval against Frankston.

"We think to go back and get a bit more belief and a bit more confidence at VFL level will be really good for him," Richardson said.

Alongside Billings will be a couple of returning players in Nathan Freeman (left shoulder) and Josh Bruce (back).

Bruce, who turned 26 on Friday, will play 80 minutes for the Zebras.

Meanwhile, Freeman is not 100 per cent, and while Richardson said there was no extra risk of re-injury, an operation will be required for the speedy midfielder at season's end.

"Our doctors are really confident that he'll be able to get through. He'll obviously need to be strapped pretty hard," Richardson said.

"My understanding is there'll be surgery at the end of the year, but there'd be quite a few across the competition in that space."

Considering the struggles the 22-year-old has had, not having played since being drafted in 2013 after continuous hamstring injuries, Richardson admitted there had been a temptation to give Freeman a senior debut as soon as he was fit.

"It's a good question," Richardson said.

"They have to be playing the sort of footy that represents the club the right way. You've got to go in knowing that they're going to be able to execute their role.

"The last thing you want to do is put someone in when they're not ready."

Seb Ross will captain the Saints for the first time in his career as Jarryn Geary recovers from a left calf strain.

The defender is not due back until after the bye.

St Kilda may opt to rotate the captaincy in the absence of Geary, but with just one win this season, the other main contender for the job made a compelling case for Ross to potentially keep the role.

"Jack Steven was pretty quick to point out that if we have a good result, he might miss," Richardson said.

Meanwhile, brothers Paddy and Tom McCartin will face each other for the first time at AFL level, albeit at opposite ends of the ground, in the Pride Game.