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Saints 'not sure' on star for clash with Hawks

Jack Steven is no guarantee to return for Sunday's clash with Hawthorn - AFL,St Kilda Saints,Jack Steven,Alan Richardson
Jack Steven is no guarantee to return for Sunday's clash with Hawthorn
We'll just have to wait and see firstly how he trains, and then how he pulls up
Alan Richardson on Jack Steven

FOUR-TIME St Kilda best and fairest Jack Steven is no certainty to face Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon despite being included in the squad.

Steven's pre-season was limited after taking a mental health break in late February, and after playing the opening two rounds of the season, albeit in a different role with more time up forward, the speedy midfielder was rested from last week's narrow loss to Fremantle in Perth.

Steven was named on the bench for the Hawks clash, but Saints coach Alan Richardson hasn't decided whether the 29-year-old will take to the field.

"Still not sure. This is our main training session today (Friday). It was a really good effort for Jack to get up for our first couple of weeks. As alluded to last week, he was a little bit sore and wasn't quite right, so we'll just have to wait and see firstly how he trains, and then how he pulls up," Richardson said.

The coach added Steven wasn't suffering a specific injury.

"It's just making sure he's right to play," Richardson said.

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Ben Long, Ben Paton and Darragh Joyce were also picked on an extended bench to be trimmed on Friday at 5pm AEST.

Richardson doesn't know when triple All Australian Dan Hannebery will finally make his Saints debut, having dealt with soreness in his legs when running at high intensity.

"Not much has changed. He's getting a bit more work into the body, which is a good thing. It's going to take a while," Richardson said.

Hannebery didn't appear on the track on Friday.

 

As for key forward Paddy McCartin, who is dealing with his eighth concussion since 2014, there's improvement but he's not back training yet.

"His symptoms are reducing. He's starting to feel better," Richardson said.

"He's at the club more now but until those symptoms go, he won't do any work, and then when he starts to do work, it depends on how he responds.

"As he said publicly the other day, he's keen to play again. That's an important step."

The Saints will lean on assistant coach Brett Ratten's insight on the Hawks, having spent six years there under Alastair Clarkson.

In-form onballer Jaeger O'Meara looms as a possible late out as he deals with a sore left hip, having been heavily restricted on Thursday, which would leave Hawthorn without Tom Mitchell (broken left leg) and hamstrung pair Shaun Burgoyne and Liam Shiels in its engine room.

St Kilda stopper Jack Steele would likely head to O'Meara if he plays, but another target looms if the Hawk is absent.

The Saints were edged by four points when these sides met in round 22 last season and impressive youngster James Worpel stood up, collecting 27 disposals and a goal.

Hard-nosed defender Jarryn Geary limited Isaac Smith's influence in that clash and could be assigned for that job again, although whether the running machine heads to the wing or spends more time up forward will weigh heavily into Richardson's thinking.

In any case, Richardson is looking for another well-rounded performance from his side that has surprised pundits to sit 2-1 after a dire 2018.

Coming up against a team that finished top-four last year after the home and away season, he's ready for the test.

"It's a step up in terms of the quality of the opposition. No disrespect to some other teams that were probably not in great form, we're looking forward to the step up," Richardson said.

"We're looking forward to the challenge."