The equation is simple for the Saints. Win, and they remain in the hunt.
Their record on Friday nights currently sits at five wins and seven losses since 2017, but tonight remains a perfect chance to get back onto the winner's list and make it two Friday night wins on the trot.
However, returning to their winning ways will be no easy feat for St Kilda, needing to navigate a tricky Carlton side at Marvel Stadium.
Boosted by the returning Charlie Curnow, the Blues will be out to rebound from last week’s loss to North Melbourne, but with the Saints set to regain four vital pieces to their line-up, Friday night is shaping up to be an intriguing one.
Round 20 | 2021
St Kilda v Carlton
Friday 30 July
7:50PM, Marvel Stadium
Broadcast live on Channel 7, Fox Footy and Kayo
St Kilda will be licking their lips at the return of Rowan Marshall after the he missed the clash with the Eagles following a mandatory isolation period.
The Saints are 6-2 in the games that Marshall has played out in full, and his last game against the Blues saw the 25-year-old bring the game home for his side, with eight disposals and seven hit-outs in the final quarter.
With Carlton’s premier ruckman in Marc Pittonet injured, and incumbent Tom De Koning having played only 18 AFL games, it is an area of the ground that St Kilda could look to exploit on Friday night.
For the first time in 761 days, Charlie Curnow will line up for the Blues.
The Carlton full-forward was named in the side after he emerged unscathed from two hit-outs in the VFL.
Curnow last played for the Blues in Round 15, 2019 before suffering five separate knee injuries that has kept him out of action for over two years.
The addition of the 24-year-old will bolster the Carlton forward-line, with Curnow’s strong marking ability set to provide the Blues’ midfielders with a tall target going inside-50.
Return of the King
Despite going down in the west by eight points last week, Saints’ fans would have been impressed by the outstanding display from Max King.
Six goals, eight contested marks and a perfect 10 coaches’ votes saw King put together a best-on-ground performance in what arguably his best game yet.
The 21-year-old leads the club with 31 goals and is currently sitting fifth in the AFL for most contested marks inside-50 (42).
With goal-sneak Jack Higgins set for a return to the side, the structure of the St Kilda forward-line is shaping up to be a dangerous proposition for opposition defences.
Some words from Ratts
St Kilda are set for a major boost against the Blues, with youngsters Hunter Clark, Rowan Marshall, Tom Highmore and Jack Higgins all named to return for the red, white and black.
Clark, Highmore and Higgins have ticked all the right boxes to return from their respective injury spells, while Marshall slots straight back into the team after completing a mandatory isolation period.
Jack Sinclair comes out of the line-up after suffering a hamstring strain against the Eagles. He is joined on the sidelines by omitted quartet Oscar Clavarino, Paul Hunter, Cooper Sharman and Nick Coffield.
Hunter, Sharman, Coffield and Jack Bytel have been listed as emergencies.
On the radar
It has been a memorable season for Sam Walsh, who is leading from the front in the Carlton midfield.
The 22-year-old has been in superb form throughout the year, averaging 31 disposals, six marks and five tackles per game, leading the Blues for total disposals, tackles, uncontested possessions, stoppage clearances, pressure acts and effective disposals.
In just his third season at the AFL level, Walsh has brought up 35+ touches four times this year, including a career-high 39 disposals two weeks ago against Collingwood.
With the Saints likely looking to shut down the impact of the Blues’ midfield bull, Brett Ratten has a couple of options at his disposal.
Seb Ross was given the job on Tim Kelly against the Eagles last week, while Luke Dunstan has proved himself in the tagging role, being put on Trent Cotchin and Ben Cunnington in weeks gone by.
Keep an eye on
Since returning from a quad injury that kept him out of action for two months, Zak Jones has picked up right where he left off.
In his first game back against the Lions three weeks ago, the St Kilda No. 3 snared 26 disposals and 10 clearances, before repeating the dose two weeks later against the Eagles with 32 touches and seven clearances.
A crucial cog to the St Kilda engine room, Jones is averaging 23 disposals, four marks and a 78 per cent disposal efficiency for the season, working well in tandem with Jack Steele, Brad Crouch and Luke Dunstan.
Last time we met
It was a game that sent the Saints into the top-four after they recorded an 18-point win over the Blues early last year.
Ratten’s troops took the ascendency early in the eerily quiet Marvel Stadium and never looked back, holding a healthy lead throughout the game to come away as three-goal victors.
Skipper Jarryn Geary slotted two first-quarter goals, while Dan Butler and Max King also kicked two majors each.
Jack Steele collected the three Brownlow votes with 23 disposals and nine tackles. The St Kilda No. 9 also tagged Blues' star Patrick Cripps in the first half, keeping him to just five touches at the main break. Rowan Marshall and Butler rounded out the voting with two and one apiece.
Moment of the match
Danger, danger, danger! Butler, Butler, Butler!
The rest speaks for itself, really.