MIDFIELD gun Zak Jones has dodged a hamstring injury and will line up against Essendon in welcome news for injury-hit St Kilda.
The Saints were the walking wounded following their 21-point AFL defeat by ladder-leading Brisbane last round, losing Mitch Owens and then Daniel McKenzie to concussions and then Jones to a hamstring complaint.
With a horrid history of hamstring trouble, it appeared unlikely speedster Jones would get up for the clash with Bombers at Marvel Stadium on Friday night but coach Brett Ratten said he’d been given the green light.
“He’s come up, the MRI was all clear,” Ratten said on Thursday.
“From his point of view, he didn’t have any power in the game and he had a sort of hamstring pain and, with his history, it was a big risk to take so the medicos pulled him out and then he pulled up OK.
“The next day he got the scan and there was nothing there so on Tuesday, he trained really well again, pulled up well, so he’ll play for sure.”
It’s a win for Jones, who only made his first appearance of the AFL season in round eight after spending the early part out for mental health reasons and then a bout of COVID-19.
Ratten said Jack Billings and Hunter Clark would be elevated with the pair biding their time in the VFL due to winning form in the Saints group.
He said exciting youngster Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera would also get a start.
The Saints face a Bombers midfield that has lost Darcy Parish to a corked calf, but will regain Andrew McGrath from an adductor strain.
“Billings and Clark will come in, which is great and that will strengthen our group,” Ratten said.
“Those players have been waiting and building to play senior footy.
“JB has had a bit of a taste whereas Hunter has sort of been building and then through COVID and VFL bye and being not quite ready we opted to take a conservative approach.
“It’s really good for us to have the talent and depth there when you do get injuries.”
(C) AAP 2022