Seb Ross will have this morning’s training session to prove his fitness in time for Saturday’s elimination final, while Dougal Howard is likely to miss in favour of Zaine Cordy.
Ross rejoined the main training group earlier in the week after spending a fortnight on the sidelines with a hamstring injury; his second in the space of two months after first going down with a grade 2 strain in Round 17.
Should the Saints get through today’s run-through at RSEA Park injury-free, Howard, who has missed five weeks with a wrist injury, will likely take part in a scratch match against Collingwood on Saturday afternoon.
Regardless, there’s a big conversation to happen at match committee later this afternoon.
“He’s a leader, Seb. I’ll be guided by him and what he says to us. Once you declare yourself (fit), you’ve got to get it done,” Lyon said at this morning’s press conference.
“I had a good conversation with Dougal, he sought me out in my office and we talked pretty well. He understands possession is nine tenths of the law, and Cordy’s done a pretty good job and (Dougal) has missed a fair bit.
“In saying that, it was a wrist, and Dougal really grew throughout the year with us and he played pretty well against the Giants last time. But in fairness to Zaine, he’s had some good scalps and played well.
“But you’ve got to get through, right? Someone said to me once these things have a funny way of taking care of themselves.”
The Saints appear likely to bring the rested Max King in straight for Jack Hayes, who was earlier this week ruled out for the remainder of the season with a calf injury sustained after his comeback game in Round 24.
An extra week has afforded the Saints more time to refresh and acclimatise to the September buzz, but Lyon is cognisant of the fact this line-up boasts far less finals experience compared to the sides he’s coached previously.
Only nine players from St Kilda’s Round 24 side took part in the club’s 2020 finals berth, while Zaine Cordy, Brad Crouch and Jack Higgins all tasted September with their previous clubs.
“We’re a very inexperienced finals team compared to the Giants, we understand that,” Lyon said.
“Really, the sentiment is the Giants go in favourites, maybe deservedly so, but we’ve had our backs to the wall all year. That’s nothing new, but it probably just steels us that little bit more.
“I love some of the language from our players like ‘we prepare like it’s a final every week’, ‘nothing’s really different, just the result’s bigger’. We just lean in with our (coaches) in Harvey, Hayes and Enright and all that experience they possess.
“You’ve had plenty of time to prepare, they know us, we know them, and we just get to work on game day.”
Finals football isn’t new for Lyon, having previously led St Kilda to September in four of his first five seasons (2008-2011), and then Fremantle for another four (2012-2015).
This time around, his ninth as senior coach, the nerves are far more settled.
“If you make it about me, I’m probably more relaxed overall because I’ve delegated more. I probably have gotten to the line a bit fresher,” Lyon said.
“There is that nervous anxiety, there’s no doubt about that, but you feel like you’re alive. You can’t buy this experience and I’m fortunate to be in a position working with a club and a group of young players and coaches to try and achieve something.
“I don’t think you can exceed expectations, but you can fulfil your possibility. I think we’re fulfilling what’s possible for us.”