The side is only as strong as the squad who helps get them there.

Now, with Brett Ratten forced to make a handful of changes heading into this week’s colossal semi-final against Richmond, the Saints pushing for selection will finally get their chance.

From long-absent defenders, dangerously fast forwards and even finals-experienced ruckmen, there’s no shortage of options to choose from.

Now, it’s just about picking the right combination.

Josh Battle

Games (career): 39
Games (2020): 13
Finals played: 0

Josh Battle is ready to go. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

He was relying on a win last Saturday to squeeze back into the senior side, and with that box ticked, Josh Battle is gunning to reclaim his post in the Saints’ starting 22.

Foot soreness ruled swingman out of last weekend’s riveting triumph, but the 22-year-old is now close to completing a full block of training to confirm his availability for his first final.

Battle made his 2020 debut against the Tigers in Round 4 at Marvel Stadium with an impressive 16 disposals, six marks and a goal to hold his place for 11 of St Kilda’s next 12 matches.

Dylan Roberton

Games (career): 129
Games (2020): 1
Finals played: 2

Dylan Roberton flies for a spoil in Round 1. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Over six months will have elapsed between his last senior game, but Dylan Roberton could be the experienced head Brett Ratten is after to combat the absence of Jake Carlisle.

The rebounding defender played in his only two finals during his first year as a Docker (2010) and could provide a steadying influence on the Saints’ younger brigade as the intensity dials up a notch on Friday.

Roberton has spent a frustrating spell at reserves level this season, but has acquitted himself superbly to be on the cusp of senior selection for seven of the past eight matches, including last weekend’s elimination final.

Additionally, the 29-year-old starred alongside Jimmy Webster and Shane Savage in last week’s practice match against Brisbane through his leadership and composure with ball in hand.

Shane Savage

Games (career): 164
Games (2020): 1
Finals played: 3

Safe hands from Shane Savage. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Shane Savage was best-on-ground in last week’s scratch match against Brisbane through his clean use and attacking spirit, and is now a frontrunner to join the senior side should Ben Long’s suspension be upheld.

The No. 5 led St Kilda for rebound-50s and effective kicks last season and showed he hadn’t lost any of his long-kicking in Round 9 of this year with a team-high 483 metres gained against Sydney.

Savage has been selected as an emergency eight times this season, including last week’s elimination final against the Bulldogs.

Jimmy Webster

Games (career): 93
Games (2020): 0
Finals played: 0

Jimmy Webster has fully recovered from his hamstring injury from earlier in the season. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

It’s been over a year and a half since Jimmy Webster wore the red, white and black at senior level, and it makes a potential return for Friday’s semi-final even sweeter.

The possible loss of Ben Long (suspension) could be the opening Webster has been desperately after for some time, with the tidy ball-user hoping to put his injury troubles of the past two season behind him.

Webster has inched closer to his best form over previous weeks at reserves level, with his gut-running and cleanliness coming out of defence a highlight in last Friday’s outing with the Lions.

Nicholas Hind

Games (career): 21
Games (2020): 10
Finals played: 0

Nicholas Hind turns on the jets. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Speed unravelled Richmond when the Saints and Tigers met in Round 4, leaving Nicholas Hind as a potential candidate to burst back into the line-up on Friday.

The quick-footed Saint missed this year’s encounter against the yellow-and-black after being omitted the previous week, but booted two goals against the would-be Premiers in 2019.

Hind was named as an emergency for last week’s heart-racing victory over the Bulldogs, and will be ready to hit the ground running should he get the call-up in a few days’ time.

Jonathon Marsh

Games (career): 25
Games (2020): 5
Finals played: 0

Jonathon Marsh slots one against the Tigers. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

He may not have the experience of Jake Carlisle or Paddy Ryder, but Jonathon Marsh boasts the versatility to be deployed at either end of the ground and offer team flexibility for Brett Ratten.

The big man ended Round 4 against the Tigers with a goal to his name, and like Nicholas Hind, has the explosive tendencies to be a help unsettle the reigning Premiers.

Marsh’s strength and speed were on show in his last senior game against Hawthorn, with the ex-Magpie skilfully shrugging of two Hawks to gift Paddy Ryder a match-winning goal.

Ryan Abbott

Games (career): 6
Games (2020): 1
Finals played: 1

Ryan Abbott had 27 hit-outs in the 2018 elimination final against Melbourne. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

There are big shoes to fill with Paddy Ryder heartbreakingly being forced out of the side through injury, but Ryan Abbott could help fill the void if the Saints opt for a two-pronged ruck attack against the Tigers.

The former Cat earned his call-up in Round 16 against Hawthorn in place of Max King (rested) and capitalised with a goal late in the game to keep his side’s finals hopes on track.

Abbott has been a shining light for St Kilda’s reserves throughout the year, and crucially has a final in among his six career games.

In contention…

Could Jack Bytel's fourth senior game be a final? Photo: Corey Scicluna.

Young Saints Ryan Byrnes and Jack Bytel continue to stake their claims for a finals berth after impressive midfield performances against the Lions.

Grit is on offer through Daniel McKenzie, running power could be boosted by Ed Phillips, while Matty Parker has the right weaponry to add to the Saints’ speedy stocks in the offensive half.

Logan Austin will also be putting his hand up to step in for the soon-to-be father of three Jake Carlisle.

Elimination Final line-up

IN: Jones
OUT: Battle (injured)

B Ben Paton Jake Carlisle Nick Coffield
HB Callum Wilkie Dougal Howard Jarryn Geary
C Bradley Hill Sebastian Ross Zak Jones
HF Jack Billings Tim Membrey Dan Butler
F Dean Kent Max King Rowan Marshall
R Paddy Ryder Jack Steele Hunter Clark
INT Jack Sinclair Dan Hannebery Ben Long
  Jack Lonie    
E Nicholas Hind Dylan Roberton Jonathon Marsh
  Shane Savage