LEIGH Montagna's potential return for Sunday's season opener headlines a raft of positive injury stories this week.
The midfielder was expected to return for St Kilda’s round two match against Gold Coast after undergoing a minor knee operation, but has recovered quicker than expected and will be put through a fitness test later this week.
Montagna’s return would be a significant boost for the Saints engine room given his vast experience and leadership.
“Leigh is well ahead of schedule and looks like being available after twisting his knee in NAB 3,” St Kilda Head Physiotherapist Andrew Wallis told SAINTS.com.au.
Montagna has played 232 games for St Kilda since debuting in 2002, finishing in the top three in the best and fairest on five occasions.
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In a another bonus ahead of the season opener, Jack Billings and Shane Savage will be available for selection after recovering from hamstring strains.
Billings and Savage are two of St Kilda’s finest ball users and will add significant polish to Alan Richardson’s team if they are selected.
“Shane and Jack have trained for two weeks now,” Wallis said.
“We have listed them as a test so obviously they have to get through but both should be available.”
Perhaps the most refreshing news of the day concerns the luckless Daniel Markworth.
Having badly injured his shoulder on March 5, the athletic wingman is on track to return mid-season despite initial fears that he would be sidelined for the entire year.
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Markworth has endured a wretched run with injury since the end of 2012 and is yet to play a senior game.
Meanwhile, experienced defender Sam Gilbert’s foot injury - which was expected to sideline him until at least round six - is healing well and has the left footer on track for a round four comeback
“Obviously Sam would have to play some VFL games,” Wallis said.
“He’s been brought forward and that’s good news for him.”
Other Saints in line for earlier than previously thought returns are Nathan Wright (groin) and Jimmy Webster (hand).
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Wright was subbed out during the Saints final pre-season game against Hawthorn, while Webster’s return is dependent on his surgeon’s approval.
“Nathan did some run-throughs at speed today and should be back for round two,” Wallis said.
“Jimmy is just a week behind him, providing he gets clearance from the surgeon.”
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Farren Ray and Seb Ross are both recovering well from hamstring tears and are two months away.
“Both are tracking together and are back running and doing some higher level strengthening in the gym,” he said.
“Luckily they can work together and inspire each other.”
Shane Savage, Jack Billings and Arryn Siposs run laps at training.