North Melbourne star Shaun Higgins has emerged as the most significant casualty from their AFL pre-season win over St Kilda.
The Kangaroos are confident that Higgins will be ready for round one, despite needing knee surgery.
The Saints’ 2014 No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin and North small forward Kayne Turner were forced out OF the Wangaratta game by quarter time because of hamstring tightness.
North reported on Monday that Turner’s scans were all clear and fellow Saint Josh Bruce similarly was confident that McCartin would be ready for the start of the regular season.
Higgins was prominent early on Saturday against the Saints, but North said he felt low-level pain late in the match.
He will now have surgery to clean out his left knee.
“It’s a very straightforward and minor wash-out that he requires,” North football director Geoff Walsh said.
“There were a couple of old bone fragments, which had been there for a number of years, that suddenly caused him some discomfort in the second half.”
Walsh added that Higgins might be back in time for their last NAB Challenge game, but no risks will be taken.
“The window we have now is perfect, in that we’d planned to give Shaun the next NAB Challenge game off anyway,” Walsh said.
“His surgeon is optimistic that he could return for our final practice match.
“However, we may choose to hold him back from that, depending on his requirements from a strength and conditioning point of view.
“Regardless of which path we take, he will be ready for round one, which is obviously the main aim.”
Bruce also said on Monday that he had been looking forward to working with McCartin in the Saints’ forward line.
McCartin only lasted the first 10 minutes of the Wangaratta game before the hamstring tweak forced the second-year player out.
“He’s going to be assessed this week and I’m sure he’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” Bruce said.
“I think he definitely will be (back by round one) – we’re just taking a moderate approach with him.”