LUCKLESS St Kilda midfielder Dan Hannebery will undergo calf surgery on Thursday after suffering another soft tissue setback at training last weekend. 

The three-time All-Australian has been plagued by hamstring, calf and groin issues since moving from Sydney to Moorabbin at the end of 2018, managing only 15 of a possible 65 games in the red, white and black. 

Hannebery had been closing in on a return via the VFL and was expected to play for Sandringham this weekend, after a managed program over the pre-season in a bid to reignite his career. 

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The 31-year-old is expected to be sidelined for the next two months due to his latest soft tissue strain, but the Saints haven’t given up hope on Hannebery returning in the second half of the season to help the club return to September after missing last year's finals.

Hannebery rarely missed a game between 2010 and 2017, polling 20 or more Brownlow Medal votes on three occasions to establish himself as one of the best midfielders in the game, helping Sydney win the 2012 premiership and reach two other Grand Finals.

"Dan's going in today for an operation. He will be 6-8 (weeks on the sidelines)," St Kilda coach Brett Ratten told reporters at RSEA Park.

Dan Hannebery, Jude Bolton and Jarrad McVeigh after the Swans' Grand Final victory over Hawthorn at the MCG in 2012. Picture: AFL Photos

"Its frustrating for Dan, he's worked so hard to overcome the calf injuries that he's had. Hopefully at six weeks he gets over it and he's playing the last part of the year and having influence on games. 

"You think of what he's achieved in the game and then not to be playing the game that you love ... He'll have the operation, take a little bit of time and then he'll be back. There's a lot of footy to be played. We want Dan to be healthy and perform like he can. He's a quality player, we've got to get him on the park to perform. 

"I think he will overcome this injury. The operation will be significant for him to get over some of the issues that he's had. It will help him enormously and help him get the continuity he needs to play AFL footy." 

St Kilda veteran Paddy Ryder is expected to return for his first senior appearance since round 19 last season, after making a successful return from Achilles soreness in the VFL on Sunday.

St Kilda's Paddy Ryder looks on during the side's practice match against Carlton on February 24, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Ratten and the match committee inside Moorabbin now need to determine if they can play mature-age recruit Jack Hayes in the same 22 as Rowan Marshall and Ryder.  

Hayes was a revelation in round one, producing a stunning debut performance that attracted five coaches votes – just over a fortnight after he was added to St Kilda's rookie list – and produced a serviceable effort against the Dockers, finishing with 12 disposals, six hitouts and four tackles in the 10-point win. 

"We are going to have a look at it [playing all three]. We had a little bit of an experiment here today with being taller and smaller. We will finalise that today. It's going to be touch and go either way. 

Jack Hayes flies for a mark during St Kilda's round two clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium on March 27, 2022. Pictures: AFL Photos

"Jack's put his best foot forward and played some really good footy for our footy club and the players love playing with him so we will see how that pans out."

Former skipper Jarryn Geary is set to play a full game for Sandringham against Richmond on Sunday, after building up his game time across the past fortnight, following a shoulder reconstruction.

"This week will be flat out for him at VFL level and then we will go from there," Ratten said. 

"He has done everything right. He's put his toe in the water at VFL level and we've sort of built him up. He'll play a full game and we'll see how he performs."