ST KILDA'S schoolboy forward Josh Battle will make his senior debut against Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Battle, who is completing year 12 at Haileybury College, will replace the suspended Tim Membrey.

Match preview: St Kilda v Essendon

The 18-year-old started the year brightly with a five-goal haul in the Saints' intraclub match in February, before splitting his time between school footy and the Saints' VFL affiliate Sandringham, where he has played nine games.

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said Battle had earned his opportunity.

"Given what Tim provides our team and given we've come off such a strong performance, we want to keep it as like-for-like as possible," Richardson told

"Josh is a really strong athlete; he's got a great combination of speed and endurance; he's a clever footballer; he wins the ball well in the air; his pressure and defence has been really positive at VFL level so we've decided to go with him because of all of those factors."

Battle ran 10min 7sec for the 3km time trial at the 2016 NAB AFL Draft Combine, highlighting his elite endurance.

The news comes on the same day that Battle's fellow St Kilda forward Paddy McCartin revealed he would take an indefinite break from the game after failing to recover sufficiently from his latest bout of concussion.