Sam Gilbert will play his first game for St Kilda since round 22 last season when the Saints take on Melbourne on Sunday.
And his coaches and teammates couldn’t be happier for him.
The important defender missed 16 weeks last year with a stress fracture in his foot and there were fears for his playing future when he aggravated the injury against Richmond, just three games into his comeback.
“It’s a great thing for Gilbo to be back and the players are rapt for him,” assistant coach Rohan Welsh told AAP.
“We all know how important he is to us. The players are that excited for him and to have him back in the side.
“To have his experience back there is something that the boys are really looking forward to.”
The Saints have taken a cautious approach with Gilbert who suffered groin soreness after a VFL match a few weeks back.
His return leaves just one player, Sam Fisher with a hamstring injury, on the shortest injury list in the AFL, which is a pleasing turnaround for a club that suffered a slew of hamstring issues late in pre-season.
“We looked at that, of course, and now it’s really pleasing to see our injury list so short,” Welsh said.
“We’re getting some players back and Fish was close this week to but with a bye coming up we took a cautious approach.”
St Kilda, currently 14th on the ladder, will be looking to bounce back after a 63-point loss to Hawthorn, while the 15th-placed Demons are coming off a 25-point loss to Collingwood on the Queen’s Birthday holiday.
“We did some really good things against Hawthorn and we did some things that we obviously need to improve on,” Welsh said.
“But if we bring the same intensity then we give ourselves a really good chance.”
History is on the Saints’ side with Melbourne unable to defeat St Kilda in their last 10 attempts.
Paul Roos’ side doesn’t enjoy the venue for Sunday’s clash either, with the Demons failing to salute in their past 20 games at Etihad Stadium.
“We don’t even look at past records,” Roos said. “We’re continually moving forward as a footy club and (we’ve now got) different teams and different players. “It doesn’t matter where we’re playing or who we’re playing we know every game’s hard and we know we have to play really well to beat St Kilda.”