AFTER two shoulder reconstructions and a recent "mini pre-season", St Kilda coach Alan Richardson believes forward Tom Lee will play senior football in the coming weeks. 

Lee, 23, has not been sighted at AFL level this year after playing 10 games in his injury-interrupted first season at the Saints.  

Midfielder Seb Ross appears a strong chance to be recalled this week after some promising VFL performances, but Lee's recent form means he'll likely to have to show more before earning the same right. 

While Richardson said it was up to players like Lee and Ross to put their hands up, he indicated the former Claremont goalkicker was nearing a place where he could physically challenge for promotion.  

"Without being specific, [Lee's] form has not been outstanding," Richardson said. 

"He's working hard, his training program has almost reflected a mini pre-season in-season.

"In some ways, that's probably compromised game day, but we've needed to do that.

"I would expect that his form in the next few weeks would see him push for selection."

With Rhys Stanley struggling with consistency and veteran skipper Nick Riewoldt only able to do so much each week, Richardson knows the Saints need to get Lee up and running. 

But they will wait until he's ready after his modified pre-season hampered the expected physical improvement he was supposed to gain before his second AFL year. 

"On the back of a fairly slow start to the season, two shoulder reconstructions … he's building and we definitely need him in the team sooner rather than later," Richardson said. 

"We need to make sure he's right to go and he's got a bit of form under his belt.

"He's been a bit scratchy up until now and he's a guy we want to get in when he's ready."

Blake Acres, the third selection from last year's draft, has joined the raft of youngsters on the sidelines for the Saints. 

Acres rolled his ankle just minutes after being subbed into the Saints' 38-point loss to Gold Coast last Sunday before their bye. 

He will miss between four and six weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain similar to the one Trent Dennis-Lane picked up three weeks ago. 

Richardson said it was frustrating to lose yet another youngster, alongside Eli Templeton, who is out for three to four months with a broken arm, and Nathan Wright (leg, six weeks). 

"We would rather them be out there," he said. 

"It is important we get games into those guys, as long as they earn the right and those two have been terrific for us.

"You add Nathan Wright into that mix; he was certainly one of our players we'd pencilled in who needs to get a lot of footy in this year.

"But that is AFL footy and so far their application to make sure they do whatever they can to be even better when they come back has been first rate so that's a positive."

Daniel Markworth, who missed all of last season after a knee reconstruction, has hot competition to contend with if he's to make his AFL debut soon. 

In the mid-season review of the players who have mainly appeared in the VFL, Sandringham coach Simon McPhee told the Saints' website Markworth was "starting to get back to where we thought he was before he did his knee". 

He also said he was "finding more of the footy and getting more confident with his run and carry each week, which is exciting". 

"His form has been ok. In terms of positions that we've identified for Daniel, the guys that are in those positions – like Jack Newnes – have been in pretty good form," Richardson said. 

"He's just going to have to continue to improve and grow. 

"He's a fantastic young man, his work commitment and his dedication to his footy is really impressive so he's heading in the right direction."