ST Kilda forward Darren Minchington has suffered a knee injury that will delay his start to the season by up to six weeks.
The 24-year-old sustained medial ligament damage to his left knee during a VFL intra-club match against Sandringham last Saturday.
Saints football manager Simon Lethlean said Minchington would be unavailable for four to six weeks.
“Thankfully, the scans shows it wasn’t as serious as it could have been and he should be back training in a few weeks, which is a positive,” said Lethlean.
“Darren was just starting to hit his straps over the past month after missing a large chunk of the second half of the 2017 season with an ankle injury.”
The hard-bodied Saint shaped as a long-shot to feature in St Kilda’s round one team to face Brisbane on Saturday March 24 after missing both JLT Community Series matches.
Minchington, who played five of his 28 AFL games last season, is one of only two Saints ruled out for round one, along with luckless midfielder Nathan Freeman who will be sidelined for two months following his latest hamstring injury.
Three-time best-and-fairest winner Jack Steven sent a scare through the St Kilda camp in the pre-season clash against Melbourne at Casey Fields last Thursday, but his ankle sprain will not sideline him for the game against the Lions at Etihad Stadium.