ST KILDA is leaning towards risking Dan Hannebery for its must-win round 18 clash with Greater Western Sydney on Friday night, as the club aims to break its nine-year finals drought.
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Hannebery hasn't played since round five due to a hamstring injury, but has trained solidly since returning to ball work while in quarantine after journeying back to Victoria to undergo surgery in July.
The Saints must beat the Giants at the Gabba on Friday night to confirm their position in the top eight, or face a nervous wait relying on results going their way in Saturday afternoon's Essendon-Melbourne clash.
The implications of a defeat, which could cause St Kilda to slip out of the finals picture, means that the club is now favouring taking the punt on Hannebery.
That's despite an extensive history of injury problems that have limited the star midfielder to just 10 games in the past two seasons following a high-profile move from Sydney at the end of 2018.
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"We will sit down this afternoon at match committee and weigh up whether to bring Dan in," Saints coach Brett Ratten said on Wednesday.
"We got a good look at him at training this morning, so now we just have to decide what's the best way to go.
"(His injury history) does play into it a bit and that's probably the conversation this afternoon.
"When you're here and you watch him run around and everything looks good – he's vocal, he's a leader of our team and he influences others – you think it would be nice to have him onboard. But we do have to consider the other things as well."
A number of factors will influence St Kilda's final decision on Hannebery, including whether the club gives him minutes in a practice match this week.
"We’ve thrown a lot of things up and that's probably the last bit of the puzzle," Ratten said.
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"Playing in that (practice) game against GWS before the game on Friday, or do we put him out there to play and get an AFL game into him? Then he might be able to get another game in that bye week, depending on how everything falls.
"It's a risk, but it looks like a risk worth taking."
St Kilda will consider recalls for defensive duo Jake Carlisle and Dylan Roberton ahead of the clash with GWS, while star midfielder Jack Steele is fit to play despite battling a corkie this week.
However, the loss of gun recruit Zak Jones to a hamstring injury leaves a spot open for Hannebery's return, which adds another interesting dynamic to the selection decision facing the Saints.
"That's probably come into the equation as well," Ratten said.
"Jones did the hamstring in the last quarter and he'll miss a couple of weeks, but that's probably a reason to consider it more."