Freeman close to ending long wait for bow
St Kilda believe luckless midfielder Nathan Freeman could break through early this season.
The speedster is being eyed up for an on-baller role, which would end a four-season wait for an AFL debut.
Freeman will get the chance to earn a spot by playing in the pre-season JLT Community Series.
Saints coach Alan Richardson sees him as a contender to help improve his midfield, and the club have had him on a specialised program during pre-season.
He moved out of his modified regiment on Friday and into match simulation, with Richardson hopeful he's been able to recapture his leg speed.
The 22-year-old has been held out of the main training group by design this summer to complete a stringent conditioning program, but still has more than two weeks to show his form in full training before the opening JLT Community Series match against Carlton.
Richardson said: "His speed is now as high as it's been in two years, so he's starting to back himself and trust his legs. He's had a really good run at it in the period leading up to Christmas and post-Christmas, so he'll now join in.
"He's in really good shape and mentally he's still really positive. I've never met someone as strong as him mentally."
Freeman saw his first two years in the AFL wiped out by hamstring problems while he was with Collingwood.
He joined the Saints two years ago and played eight games in the VFL and VFL development league to put himself in line for a senior call-up.
Just at the point that the club's match committee was ready to hand him his debut his year was ended by a right ankle syndesmosis injury.
St Kilda are 34.00 to win the Grand Final.
The Saints are 2.50 to finish in the top eight.
View all Australian Rules betting