Zak Jones looks to handball during a St Kilda training session on November 22, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

ST KILDA midfielder Zak Jones has been granted a leave of absence from the club to focus on his mental health on the eve of the season.

The 26-year-old has been absent from RSEA Park this week and will miss the AAMI Community Series clash against Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

Saints chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said there is no timeframe around Jones' return to the program, with the club prepared to give the former Swan as much time as he needs.

St Kilda's Zak Jones is seen on the bench during a practice match against Carlton on February 24, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"Zak Jones has been granted a leave of absence to focus on his personal health and wellbeing," Lethlean said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

"Zak’s welfare is the number one priority and he will be given as much time as he needs, with the full support of the club.

"On behalf of the Jones family, we request their privacy is respected at this time."

With St Kilda's opening game of the season exactly a fortnight away, Jones is unlikely to return in time to face Collingwood on the first Friday night of the season.

Jones has been one of St Kilda's most impressive performers across the past month, starring in the intra-club and in match simulation sessions with his game-breaking speed and penetrating kick.

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The Dandenong Stingrays product has played 29 games for St Kilda since departing Sydney after 90 games across six seasons at the end of 2019.

Jones endured a frustrating campaign last season due to pre-season hamstring surgery and a mid-season quad tear at training, which sidelined him for two months following his two best games in the red, white and black.

St Kilda will be without young defender Nick Coffield this season due to a knee reconstruction, while Jarryn Geary, Paddy Ryder and Dan Hannebery are all running out of time to be fit for round one.