Surgery for Saints' Windhager after AFL practice match
Injury-hit St Kilda are confident Marcus Windhager will play in round one despite the promising midfielder suffering a broken hand in the 35-point practice match win over Essendon.
The Saints handled the blustery conditions better at RSEA Park on Friday, winning 10.7 (67) to 3.14 (32) to give returned coach Ross Lyon his first small victory back at the helm after a thumping from Melbourne last week.
Windhager started in the centre square but lasted just a few minutes, falling and breaking a bone in his right hand.
The 19-year-old had his right arm in a sling at one stage and will undergo surgery on Saturday, yet remains a good chance to feature against Fremantle on March 19.
"You can get luck or unlucky with those injuries and it sounds like he's got lucky," Saints assistant coach Robert Harvey said.
"He's broken a bone in his hand but it looks like he'll get that (surgery) done really sharply and he looks good for round one."
It is welcome news for the Saints, who already have a long injury list headlined by key players Max King (shoulder), Jack Billings (fractured leg), Zak Jones (Achilles) and Tim Membrey (knee).
Essendon also had an injury scare on Friday, with midfielder Jye Caldwell helped off the field during the third quarter with a sprained ankle.
Caldwell sat out the rest of the match as a precaution but is expected to be available to take on Hawthorn in round one.
In the absence of injured tall forwards King and Membrey, St Kilda still found enough avenues to goal.
Impressive youngster Mitch Owens kicked three and handed two off, including one for Jack Higgins, who also finished with three majors.
First-round draft pick Mattaes Phillipou shone with 15 disposals and a goal, playing himself into contention for a round-one berth.
Saints midfielder Brad Crouch (35 disposals, seven clearances) was prolific as always and ruckman Rowan Marshall won an intriguing battle with the Bombers' Sam Draper.
Marshall had 24 disposals, 19 contested possessions, eight clearances and a goal.
Essendon wasted a strong start and territorial dominance with the breeze at their backs in the opening term, failing to capitalise in front of goal as they kicked 1.6 to 0.2.
Alwyn Davey Jr (13 disposals, one goal) was lively across half-forward for the Bombers in the first half but Peter Wright (1.4) and Nic Martin (0.3) both missed chances in attack.
New captain Zach Merrett (23 disposals, seven clearances) and former Carlton player Will Setterfield (25, three) were busy.
"There were some challenges," Essendon assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa said.
"Same (number of) scoring shots but we didn't challenge them in that regard, and we've been doing a lot of work on it.
"That's something we'll definitely focus on with two weeks to go before round one.
"But we saw some positive signs, especially from players that have come into the club like (Sam) Weideman, Davey was pretty good again and Setterfield did a pretty good job."
Saints star Brad Hill was a late withdrawal for personal reasons, but is not in doubt for round one.