Saint Freeman unlikely to make AFL debut

Roger Vaughan

The growing hype around Nathan Freeman's AFL debut is probably a week too early.

The injury-plagued midfielder trained away from the main group on Wednesday morning and that, combined with coach Alan Richardson's comments, means it is unlikely he will play in the Friday night clash with Carlton.

But the Saints are set to regain defender Jake Carlisle, who missed last week's loss to Port Adelaide because of a punctured lung.

Carlisle was being treated for sore ribs last Thursday when an injection left him with the lung damage.

Freeman, who turned 23 last month, was the No.10 pick for Collingwood in the 2013 draft and he was traded to the Saints two years later.

He has endured a succession of hamstring injuries, but is closing on his elusive AFL debut after a good run of form in the VFL.

There was speculation earlier this week that he would play in Friday's Etihad Stadium match.

"My gut feel would be that he's probably still a week away and that's a positive when you consider he hasn't been able to string games together," Richardson said before training.

"He's certainly been able to do that (in the last few weeks) and he's getting close, which is exciting.

"We'd love to have him out there, but we're not going to pick him until he's ready.

Richardson confirmed Freeman was in their selection mix at the start of the week.

"It's not a physical issue now, it's a footy issue and whether we think he can help our team.

"Has he played in the manner that we think he can support what we're doing out there?

"He's really close, so it's line ball ... it's a little less likely than likely."

Apart from the good news about Carlisle, the Saints also confirmed that defender Logan Austin (groin) and key forward Paddy McCartin (foot) will be sidelined for the next fortnight.

Richardson said he does not care about the criticisms around Friday night's game.

There is commentary that the two teams do not deserve the prime fixture, given Carlton most likely will finish bottom and the Saints are 15th.

It is St Kilda's home game and they have cut ticket prices.

"We've won two of our last three and been playing better footy - that s all I care about," Richardson said.

"I want our fans to turn up.

"They'll both be young teams and they'll both be having a crack."