ST KILDA will sit down in coming weeks to determine the future of defender James Frawley after opting to send him for shoulder surgery that has ended his season.
It comes as the Saints strongly consider a recall for fellow veteran Dan Hannebery against Geelong this weekend in what would be his first game of 2021.
Frawley was put under the knife on Monday after further assessment of a shoulder injury sustained earlier in the year found it hadn't sufficiently improved.
The premiership Hawk came out of retirement on a 12-month contract for the Saints this year but has managed just two AFL games after hamstring, calf and shoulder setbacks.
With Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie holding down key posts in defence, the emergence of Tom Highmore, plus rookies Darragh Joyce and Oscar Clavarino waiting in the wings, the Saints will need to make a call on whether Frawley continues as a 33-year-old in 2022.
"His shoulder's not right so he'll go in for an operation on Monday and we'll sit down and work through what it looks like for next year," coach Brett Ratten told ABC Sport on Sunday.
Hannebery impressed in a combined match of non-selected AFL players on Saturday to put his hand up for an AFL return against the Cats.
The 30-year-old midfielder has been hampered by a string of calf complaints this season but returned via the VFL against Essendon on July 11.
A short break due to COVID-19 followed before he featured at VFL level again on July 31.
The season was again put on hiatus last weekend, prompting the premiership Swan to focus on training and a scratch match alongside other Saints reserves players.
St Kilda officials have been bullish on his chances to return and perform this season given he played the final three matches last season – including two finals – after 12 weeks on the sideline following hamstring surgery.
Teammate Tim Membrey remains confident Hannebery can be a real weapon for the Saints on the field.
"There's a contrast when he's out there training with the intensity and what he brings around the footy," Membrey said.
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"He's really strong in tight, clean, and that's something we've probably lacked a little bit this year. And his ball use as well - he's really composed with the footy.
"That's what he brings at training and he hasn't lost any of that."
The Saints need to beat Geelong and Fremantle in the final two matches and rely on other results in order to play finals.
Max King remains touch-and-go after he was subbed out of the win over Sydney with a groin injury that will need to be assessed this week.
Speedster Hunter Clark will be eyeing a return after sitting out against the Swans with concussion, but Dougal Howard is set to miss another match with a hamstring strain.