ST KILDA is hopeful young midfielder Jack Billings will miss only a couple of weeks after injuring his hamstring against the Brisbane Lions on Saturday.
The classy 19-year-old limped off during the first quarter of the three-point loss and did not return.
Coach Alan Richardson said they would need scans to confirm the extent of the injury, but had his fingers crossed.
"It's a bummer. He's had a really good pre-season," Richardson said.
"We would hope it would only be a couple of weeks, but we'll have to wait and see."
On a more positive note for the Saints, No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin had an encouraging first outing.
He kicked a first quarter goal, had 10 disposals and took five marks and looked right at home among the men.
"He gave us a really good contest late in the game when we were coming pretty hard," Richardson said.
"He went back with the flight and wore one for his trouble and came off with the blood rule and got the mummy bandage on and wanted to get back out.
"He's a good kid and there was some really promising signs from Paddy."
Richardson said his team was too cautious in the first half and came to life in the second once they took the game on and began to run-and-carry from defence.
His Lions counterpart Justin Leppitsch was left to rue a glut of missed opportunities in front of goal during the first half that kept the contest close.
Leppitsch was pleased with star recruit Dayne Beams' 25-disposal debut.
"He was good, wasn't he?" Leppitsch said.
"He led our possession count and ended up getting a bit of a tag on him as well, so welcome to the new world Beamsy, it might happen a bit more for him.
"It's good to see him in our colours and do well."
However, the Lions coach was still scratching his head over the forward line dilemma, with Michael Close, Daniel McStay and Brent Staker all showing glimpses without taking the game over.
"We're still struggling to mark the ball inside 50, that's always going to be a test for us and we didn't answer any questions in that area today," he said.
"It was their first hit-out, so it's to be expected. We were a little sloppy in a few areas."