ST KILDA Next Generation Academy prospect Marcus Windhager could face a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a back injury that has surfaced in the lead-up to the NAB AFL Draft.

The severity of the injury is still being investigated but a layoff is expected for Windhager, who pushed himself into top-30 considerations this season playing with the Sandringham Dragons and Vic Metro.

The Saints have first access to Windhager if a bid for the powerful midfielder comes after pick 20, with the first 20 selections protected from bids on NGA players under new rules in effect this year.

The 183cm prospect has shown he can play in the midfield and also be versatile to be used at either end of the ground, with his last game for the Dragons in round 11 of the NAB League season seeing him gather 23 disposals

He also picked up 25 disposals in a Vic Metro trial game against Vic Country in June before kicking a goal from 12 disposals and three inside-50s in the U19 Championships game at Windy Hill in July. 

The athletic Windhager overcame a knee reconstruction last year to impress in his draft campaign before the sixth Victorian lockdown ended the season for the draft prospects.

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The Saints also have access to Mitchito Owens through their Next Generation Academy, with the running midfielder considered a chance to be picked inside the top 20, but more likely outside of that bracket.

The speedy Jack Peris, the son of former Olympian Nova Peris, is also eligible to join the Saints via their NGA this year. The club holds pick No.9 at the draft as well as picks 62, 66, 67 and 85.

INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER Your club's picks as they stand

But those later picks will push up the board once other bids are matched on during the draft, giving them a bigger points value as the event goes on. 

Jack Peris takes off during a NAB League testing day on March 6, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos