ST KILDA is sweating on the fitness of luckless midfielder Dan Hannebery, who suffered yet another injury setback in the Saints’ 45-point loss to Geelong on Saturday evening.
In only his second game of the season, Hannebery's evening ended prematurely after he was subbed out of the game with an ankle injury at three-quarter time.
The ankle injury is the latest in a string of setbacks which have plagued his time at St Kilda, having only played 17 out of a possible 83 games since making the move from Sydney at the end of 2018.
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Hannebery's future remains up in the air heading into the final two games of the season and, potentially, finals beyond that, as his lucrative four-year deal comes to an end at the conclusion of this campaign.
Coach Brett Ratten is unsure whether the 31-year-old will require scans on his latest setback and remains hopeful he can still play again this season, but conceded Hannebery may not feature in the Saints' must-win game against Brisbane next Friday.
"He's just got a bit of an ankle which is with that calf as well," Ratten said.
"We've just got to look after him. It was a risk to put him back out there and we're not taking any risks with players trying to get up for next week, and he might not even get up for next week.
"So we've just got to work through what it's going to look like for Dan post this game, so he'll be a test all the way to the last day."
When asked if he would risk playing Hannebery in any of the final two top eight-deciding contests, Ratten said he would consider it, only on the basis that "he's ready to go".
"We can take a risk with Dan but we're trying to put our best foot forward," Ratten said.
"We're still a chance, while we are still a chance we need to keep striving and that's if Dan's fit enough to play and he's ready to go, we'll make that selection.
"If he's not, we won't take the risk. We want to get him right for the following week, but we want to give ourselves a chance to win and that's what we are here for."
The Saints' finals hopes took a hit in their loss to the Cats, with the defeat coupled by Richmond's win over Port Adelaide knocking Ratten's charges out of the eight going into the final fortnight of the season.
Ratten believes his side were at times "hard to watch", lamenting poor ball-use and decision making which came back to bite as the contest wore on.
"I thought it was more poor skill execution and decision making, where to go with the ball and sometimes it's under no pressure, medium pressure or high pressure," Ratten said.
"The skill execution really let us down to convert because we had some good looks. We weren't good enough tonight.
"We didn't even give ourselves a chance just to be in the contest or say we're closer to them to maybe challenge them at one point. At times, it was actually hard to watch."
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Meanwhile, Geelong coach Chris Scott was pleased with how his side handled a number of "curveballs" which threatened to derail his side, particularly with the 11th-hour withdrawal of Patrick Dangerfield with calf tightness.
"I thought we were challenged through the early period of the game," Scott said.
"I said pre-game that we don't need any more of a reminder of what St Kilda can bring than the last time we played them, and we played okay for three quarters and they really got hold of us in a 20-minute period.
"At times tonight when they challenged us we were sort of better prepared to handle those situations. Probably the other thing was there, we had a bit of uncertainty during the week and that continued with Dangerfield coming out of the warm-up.
"Those sorts of things can throw teams and coaching groups for that matter. It was another example, we've had quite a few over the last few months where curveballs have been thrown our way and we've been able to maintain our composure."
Scott said Dangerfield's withdrawal was merely a precaution after he "felt some awareness" during the Cats' pre-game warm-up, and doesn't believe he will require scans despite feeling the tightness in the same calf he injured back in round 10.
"The feedback I've got from him and the medical staff is that he's fine," Scott said.
"He felt some awareness in the warm-up and he's, I think he used this language that you know, he in the past he has pushed through these things. Thinking that he'd be fine but maybe if there's a one percent chance that he might do some damage, he wasn't prepared to take it.
"So it seemed a logical call. We would have said the same thing if we had lost the game."