Three games to go. One goal.
With a spot in September on the line, St Kilda can’t afford to take any missteps as enters the final leg of its monumental 2020 nation-wide tour.
Every game is crucial, every selection just as important.
Here’s who’s in the running to make a return for Round 16's Blue Ribbon Cup match against Hawthorn.
After being omitted for last week’s match against Melbourne, Jake Carlisle is angling as the most probable inclusion heading into Sunday afternoon’s bout at Metricon Stadium.
Offering height, experience and balance to the young backline brigade, the 28-year-old has remained consistent throughout most of the Saints’ 2020 campaign.
One-on-one, Carlisle has only been beaten in six out of 29 encounters this season, while his accumulation of uncontested marks (57) to help his side shift out of defence has become his bread and butter.
On paper it sounds like the ideal combination. On-field, the results have stood up under the pump. Now, it’s in Brett Ratten’s hands.
An extra small at the fall all the ball could have given the red, white and black an added edge against the solid Dees’ defence.
Now, Jack Lonie could reaffirm his importance to the Saints’ forward fabric ahead of Sunday’s must-win clash against Hawthorn.
Adding to his case for senior selection has been his track record against the brown-and-gold from his past two outings, which has resulted in 35 disposals, seven tackles, eight free kicks for and most importantly, seven goals.
This season, Lonie has slotted six goals from his eight games. On Sunday, he’ll hope to add to that substantially.
If Brett Ratten is after another body to move inside and combat the Hawks’ on-ball brigade, Jack Bytel could be the Saint to deliver.
It’s a big responsibility for the 20-year-old, but one likely to be taken in stride as he looks to entrench himself into the senior side.
Bytel has played three senior games – including a commendable 18-disposal debut against Geelong – before a quieter outing against Brisbane saw him omitted ahead of Round 14.
His natural skillset allows him to go against bigger bodies, rack up the footy and lay tackles – qualities that will no doubt pique Ratten’s interest in recalling the youngster.
Even with no practice match to stake their claim in over the weekend, several Saints continue to hunt a place in the senior line-up and play an important role approaching the home stretch.
Jonathon Marsh, a travelling emergency for last Saturday’s clash with Melbourne, remains as a viable tall option to inject up forward, while Brett Ratten is flush for backline possibilities through Daniel McKenzie, Dylan Roberton and Shane Savage, among others.
Jimmy Webster and Luke Dunstan are close to entering the selection race after lengthy injury rehabilitations.
Meanwhile, Dan Hannebery will also be a chance for selection in the coming weeks once he completes his quarantine.
Round 14 line-up
IN: Clark, Phillips
OUT: Bytel (omitted), Carlisle (omitted)
|B||Jarryn Geary||Callum Wilkie||Nick Coffield|
|HB||Ben Paton||Hunter Clark||Dougal Howard|
|C||Jack Billings||Zak Jones||Sebastian Ross|
|HF||Bradley Hill||Josh Battle||Dan Butler|
|F||Tim Membrey||Max King||Rowan Marshall|
|R||Paddy Ryder||Jack Steele||Dean Kent|
|INT||Nicholas Hind||Ben Long||Ed Phillips|
|E||Daniel McKenzie||Jack Lonie||Dylan Roberton|