ST KILDA could be boosted by the return of star key defender Dougal Howard for Saturday night’s game against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium. 

The 26-year-old hasn’t played since undergoing an arthroscope on his left knee after being substituted out of the win over Carlton in round 16. 

Howard has built up his workload over the past fortnight and will need to prove his fitness at Wednesday’s main training session before being cleared to face the Cats. 

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With Coleman medallists Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins waiting down the highway this weekend, the Saints will be hoping to regain Howard for the crucial clash.

Dougal Howard leads Tom Hawkins to the ball in Geelong v St Kilda, R22, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Brett Ratten’s side moved back into the top-eight after beating Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, but are only half a game ahead of Richmond and a game clear of the Western Bulldogs.  

St Kilda wingman Jack Billings is set to miss a second game after suffering a back injury against the Eagles. 

The 26-year-old has undergone treatment for disc compression since then but is still yet to be given a return date.  

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The Saints were dealt a massive blow late last week when star midfielder-forward Jade Gresham was ruled out for the rest of the year after injuring his knee in Perth. 

Gresham has undergone a PCL reconstruction and will require five months on the sidelines to fully recover from the injury. 

Three-time All-Australian Dan Hannebery made an impressive return to the game on Saturday night, collecting 27 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five clearances and a goal from only 63 per cent game time in his first AFL game of 2022. 

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Hannebery kicks feel-good ripper in comeback special

Fortune favours Dan Hannebery who marks his return to senior footy with this brilliant bouncing finish

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The 31-year-old has pulled up well from the game and could prove to be a difference maker in St Kilda’s pursuit of a finals berth.