ST KILDA fitness boss David Misson is confident the squad's notorious soft-tissue injury woes are now a problem of the past.
Misson, who has worked with the Sydney Swans and the Australian cricket team, took over as general manager of strength and conditioning last October and says his staff has put measures in place to control an issue that was once so prevalent.
"We had a pretty good year last year with preventable injuries like soft-tissue," Misson said.
"The physios and myself were new to the club last year so we’d like to think that 12 months down the track we’ve got a bit of a handle on where guys are at and what they need, when to pull them back from training. We’re looking to build on last year."
Close to half of St Kilda's squad was sidelined by injury at some stage of the 2007 season with most of those cases soft-tissue-related.
Six players couldn't be considered for round one of that campaign, including key forward Nick Riewoldt who was recovering from a hamstring strain.
Even evergreen midfielder Robert Harvey fell to the hamstring curse, missing a fortnight ahead of his 350th game.
Fast forward 18 months and Misson has made core strength a focus of his second pre-season with the group.
"We’ve probably upped our focus a bit more on strength this year but we also want to build on our running base we got last year," he said.
"We’re trying to work on everything at this stage because we don’t have games on the weekend and we’re able to do that."
He added that each player has a tailored fitness program subject to their position, age and recent injury history.
Veteran defender Max Hudghton, preparing for his 13th season, is travelling well despite the hamstring and calf concerns that have hampered him in recent years.
"You need your mids to be running a bit better than your full-backs and full-forwards but we have guys like Max Hudghton who is on a program specific to him," Misson said.
"Max is going well. He's done a fair bit of running compared to this time last year. We're pretty happy with where we’re at."
Another backman, Matt Maguire (foot), and onballer Luke Ball (hamstring) are making steady progress after injury-riddled seasons and should be available for February's NAB Cup competition.
Utility Sean Dempster, who ruptured his ACL in the round-22 win over Essendon, started running last week and is aiming for a mid-season return.
Jarryd Allen (hip) is the only inactive Saint after surgery grounded him last week. The 20-year-old will be sidelined for at least six months.