ST KILDA coach Brett Ratten says veteran midfielder Dan Hannebery has been rewarded for his perseverance and commitment to his rehabilitation, after the three-time All-Australian was named for the first time in 2022 on Thursday night. 

The 31-year-old hasn't played a senior game since the final round of last season due to persistent issues with his calf, but after returning in the VFL over the past fortnight the former Swan will face Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on Saturday. 

After playing only 15 games across his first three seasons at RSEA Park, there was a fear Hannebery wouldn't play another game at AFL level when he underwent calf surgery at the end of March, but now he is back with a month to play in the home and away season.

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"He's done a power of work. The continuity from session to session just kept increasing and has been really pleasing. He's had two games back; he's clean with the footy and his voice and his running was up to where we expected so it's giving him the opportunity to play, which is great," Ratten told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

"It's been a long wait, and with that comes a bit of anxiety. He's got nothing to worry about because he's just got to stick to what he does and that's just bring the voice which he is outstanding at. There will be a few butterflies for him, but as soon as he runs out he will be fine. 

"I think if you're at the ground as a supporter, you'll probably hear him; that's the influence he has. We don't expect Dan to have 35 (disposals). We just expect him to do his role and play his part. But what he will bring I know is the direction, leadership, voice and he gives confidence with that when he does that to a teammate. That's what we'll get out of Dan."

St Kilda's Dan Hannebery gets a kick away during round 23, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Jade Gresham is set for another significant stint on the sidelines after suffering a season-ending knee injury following an innocuous incident against West Coast.

The Saints explored different options with the medical team and external experts this week before Gresham was ruled out for the rest of the season on Thursday.

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Ratten said the 24-year-old was devastated to learn he would require a PCL reconstruction and spend the next five months recovering from the injury, after missing all but three games last year due to a ruptured Achilles and the second half of 2020 due to stress fractures in his back.

Jade Gresham in action during the round three clash between St Kilda and Richmond at Marvel Stadium on April 3, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"We just had to wait a little bit for the surgeon to give us an indication where it was going to sit. Could we get through the rest of the year? Could we take a risk? That's why we delayed the decision to just see. With four weeks to go could we do something to maybe get back out there, but there's no chance," Ratten said.

"He's pretty disappointed. He stayed away from the footy club on Tuesday, just to digest what it could be. He just stayed away to be by himself, have a little bit of time at home. Then the decision came through. He is pretty shattered."

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Ratten is optimistic Jack Billings will return to action in the coming weeks after the 26-year-old sustained a back injury in the opening minutes of the 28-point win over the Eagles.

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"I think we'll see him (again this season), I don't know what the timeline is, though. He had to sit on a plane for three and a bit hours. He's had some work done on the back and he's pretty sore," he said. 

"Hopefully he responds pretty quickly and next week we'll see him running around and start the process of playing again. But if it doesn't, we'll have to just take it slowly."

St Kilda's Jack Billings handballs during the round 17 match between St Kilda and Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on July 9, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

St Kilda is currently level with the eighth-placed Western Bulldogs, but outside the eight on percentage with a month to play. 

After falling from 8-3 to 10-8, the Saints must continue winning if they are going to return to September. 

They face a brutal road ahead with Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and Brisbane and Sydney at Marvel Stadium to come after Saturday's twilight fixture against the Hawks.