Nick Riewoldt’s bid to overcome a calf injury in time to play against Richmond on Sunday gathered momentum late this week, with the St Kilda skipper all but certain to take the field.
The 32-year-old recovered well from Thursday’s main training session, then participated in Saturday’s light training run and will lead the Saints against the Tigers barring any late mishaps.
Riewoldt, who picked up the calf injury in last week’s loss to Greater Western Sydney, is desperate to play in the match that will also serve as a fundraiser and tribute to his late sister, Maddie, who lost her battle with a rare bone marrow disorder in February.
“The occasion is obviously very special but Nick will always put the team first,” assistant coach Rohan Welsh told AAP.
“So there is definitely that factor but I think Nick’s experienced enough to know his own body.
“Together, we’ll make the right call, I’m sure.”
St Kilda will unveil first-round draft pick Hugh Goddard on Sunday, with the key defender joined by No.1 pick Paddy McCartin, who is in for his first game since round four.
Goddard has had to bide his time before making his AFL debut, while McCartin will play just his third game at senior level, and his first alongside Riewoldt.
“It’s been really pleasing to see both of those boys have to work really hard to get a game,” Welsh said.
“I think for young guys to have to fight for a spot is a really good thing.
“Hugh’s form has been really good in the VFL for a long time now, he’s been putting his hand up pretty much every week, it’s just that the back six have been playing some pretty solid footy.
“The way that he’s gone about it has been really professional. He’s learnt a hell of a lot over the first 15 weeks or so and that will hold him in really good stead.”
Eli Templeton’s inclusion was the third of three unforced changes made by the Saints, while the Tigers brought in Ivan Maric, Matt McDonough and Ben Lennon.
Fifth-placed Richmond will be looking to push further into top-four contention with a fourth win on the trot, while St Kilda are gunning for their sixth win of the season.