AAP AFL

Richardson backs Saints for big AFL test

By AAP Newswire

St Kilda feel like they can stake a claim at the AFL's top end of town, provided they are good enough for long enough.

Despite coming off a three-game AFL losing streak and Collingwood's strong form, Saints coach Alan Richardson is upbeat ahead of their clash on Saturday at the MCG.

While St Kilda have slipped to a 4-4 record after an encouraging start to their season, their losses have been against Adelaide, GWS and West Coast - all AFL pace setters.

The West Coast game summed up St Kilda's lot - they only lost by 18 points after a four-goal burst from the Eagles at the end of the third quarter.

The week before they had 62 to 42 inside 50s against the Giants and paid for a poor opening term.

"It's really clear feedback to us that if we don't play 120 minutes of our footy and the way that we want to play, particularly against the top end of town, we're going to get beaten," Richardson said.

"We know against good teams - and we've played against three of them, three weeks in a row - that we've been in the contest for big periods of those games.

"We just haven't been in them for long enough."

Magpies star Jordan De Goey starred against the Saints with six goals last year, but he is in doubt with a leg injury.

Richardson said they are unsure if De Goey will play.

"Hopefully he doesn't pass that (fitness) test," Richardson said.

Richardson also rejected the Saints' own injury struggles as a factor in their brace of losses.

"We've had real clarity in recent weeks, against good teams, that the team we've put out there has been more than competitive for big periods of the game, as long as we stick to how we want to go about it," he said.

"We're really comfortable with the people we're putting out there."

Those injury woes continue, with Jimmy Webster out because of an ongoing hand problem.

Robbie Young will make his debut and Rowan Marshall is back, while Ben Long was dropped to regain form in the VFL.

There has been good news on the injury front, with star recruit Dan Hannebery returning to full training on Thursday.

Hannebery looked a little proppy at the club on Friday, but Richardson said he pulled up well and they hope the midfielder will return through the VFL in about a month.

"We want to make sure we really bullet-proof his body - it will frustrate him," Richardson said.

"He'd say two weeks (before he plays) I reckon, possibly even one week."