ST KILDA ruckman Billy Longer is in doubt for the Saints' round one clash against Brisbane on Saturday afternoon after he was on limited duties at training in Moorabbin on Tuesday.
Longer was restricted to running at RSEA Park as he deals with a left hip flexor issue.
He was the only listed player to take part in a VFL practice match for Sandringham against Port Melbourne last Friday, and he continues to carry the niggle and needs to complete the full session on Thursday and recover without major discomfort to face his former side at Etihad Stadium.
If Longer is not declared fit, a tough decision on selection looms, with Rowan Marshall in a tussle with Tom Hickey to be considered the standby big man.
Longer, 24, missed the club's second JLT Community Series clash against Melbourne a fortnight ago with the hip injury.
Marshall, 22, made his debut against Sydney in round 18 last year in his only game to date but has impressed the Saints since he was recruited as a mature-age selection at No.10 in the 2016 rookie draft.
Small forward Darren Minchington needs surgery on the knee he injured in a Sandringham intraclub just over a week ago.
"He tweaked his medial co-lateral ligament on his knee but he has sustained a compression fracture on the outside of his knee, so that will need to be elevated surgically," head physiotherapist Andrew Wallis told saints.com.au.
"We're looking like probably 6-8 weeks before he can run, so he's going to be a bit of a delayed return."
Meanwhile, luckless youngster Nathan Freeman stepped up his return from hamstring surgery.
He began jogging late last week but increased the intensity on Tuesday as he did laps of the oval.
The former Magpie is expected to be available for a VFL return in about a month.
"I can't believe the attitude he's got. Every time he gets slapped down with another injury, he just seems to get up and going. His resilience and his nature around the club just doesn't change," captain Jarryn Geary told reporters.
"You feel for him sometimes. You walk past him and think, 'How does he keep doing it?'.
"I'm hoping this is his last little hiccup, because before that injury he was performing pretty strongly at training and giving us a glimpse of what he might be able to become."
Star onballer Jack Steven moved well in drill work, seemingly unencumbered by the rolled left ankle he suffered against the Demons. While Steven left the track midway through the session, St Kilda is confident the triple best and fairest winner will face the Lions.
"Jack was out there today and did a fair bit of the training session. I'm sure it will be depending on how he pulls up but I'm pretty confident he'll be out there on Saturday," Geary said.
Draftee Ben Paton continued his rehab from right thumb surgery and was kicking and marking the football.
The wingman should return within the next month.