ST KILDA does not expect dynamic midfielder Jade Gresham to be seen again in 2020 after scans revealed a sizeable fracture in his lower back.
Gresham showed pain following the Saints' 59-point loss to Geelong on Monday night and St Kilda chief Simon Lethlean said there was a "grumble" in his back prior to that game which had settled with an anti-inflammatory.
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Speaking on SEN radio on Thursday morning, Lethlean said: "The medical advice is they can sneak up pretty quick those stress fractures, and they've got it pretty early, but it's a fair size stress fracture/irritation there, so I think he'll be up against it to get back.
"The only thing you can do for those is rest … four or five weeks of rest, so I think he'll be unlikely [to play again this year]."
Lethlean said Gresham had a precautionary scan after the Monday night game, and the medical staff "got it pretty quick".
"He could have kept playing with that longer, which is the good part about players self-reporting these things. He could have kept playing and made it a lot worse, so they got it early."
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It is a blow for the Saints who have been without Dan Hannebery (hamstring), Seb Ross (calf) and Luke Dunstan (pectoral muscle) in their midfield depth.
In better news, Lethlean confirmed Hannebery had not been ruled out for 2020 and was back running.
"So he'll get a three-week block in before he can, hopefully, join the third hub if the AFL gets that up at the end of the month, which is a hub really designed for clubs to stock their players and staff for finals if they need them.
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"That's our plan, to get (Hannebery) back up here, get him into training and the timing on that would just about get him to the first week of finals, if we're lucky enough to make it. He's certainly a live prospect, which is good, because it keeps him hungry to get his rehab under control, which is good."
The Saints face Essendon on Sunday.