Dan Hannebery looks set to be unleashed in the upcoming Marsh Community Series after putting together a solid three weeks of training after breaking his right foot in October.
The St Kilda midfielder suffered a freak injury shortly into his off-season break last year when he tripped on a small set of stairs while visiting his sister and her fiancé in Perth.
Surgery repaired the metatarsal fracture and meant he was on modified duties when the Saints resumed training in November.
However, the 28-year-old has turned a corner in his recovery and has been in full training for three weeks, meaning he appears a likely starter for the Saints' first pre-season game on February 20.
Hannebery looked fit and moved well in the minutes he played in Thursday's match simulation at Moorabbin and provided strong vocal leadership to his younger midfield teammates.
He will be looking for a change of luck this year after his first season as a Saint was interrupted by injury.
He played five games last year after crossing from the Swans as a 208-game big-name recruit.
Looking set to join Hannebery in the clash with Hawthorn in two weeks is defender Dylan Roberton, who also moved well in the intense scratch match on Thursday.
Roberton is looking to resume his playing career this year after last playing in round four, 2018; the game where he collapsed behind play with a heart issue that has since required the insertion of an internal defibrillator.
The 28-year-old was set to resume in early 2019 but his defibrillator activated in a pre-season game and he subsequently sat out the entire year to ensure his irregularity was under control.
Dylan Roberton is one step closer to making his return after almost two years on the sidelines.— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) November 21, 2019
Roberton played on the wing and in defence, where he faces hot competition to break into the side following the recruitment of Dougal Howard and the emergence of Callum Wilkie and Josh Battle last season.
Also notable in Thursday's match practice was new recruit Bradley Hill, who really got moving after half-time and showcased his blistering pace and pinpoint accuracy.
At one point, the wingman burst through the middle and blasted the ball to a leading – and trimmed down – Paddy Ryder, who spent most of the game in the forward line.
Ryder swapped in and out with the much-improved Rowan Marshall in what's set to be a flexible pairing where both will spend time in attack and the ruck.
Another off-season acquisition in Zak Jones was typically hard at it in the middle while former Tiger Dan Butler did a few nice things up forward.
Talented forward Max King impressed with a contested mark in front of Jake Carlisle, which he followed up with a nice goal, while Ben Long collected plenty of the ball and was another standout.
Captain Jarryn Geary, Seb Ross, Matt Parker and Sam Alabakis sat out the game while Jimmy Webster didn't play in the last quarter and ran laps instead.
Ross (calf) is set to return to training next week while Geary (calf) and Parker (foot) will follow the week after.