St Kilda ruckman Tom Hickey during round eight last year.
St Kilda ruckman Tom Hickey during round eight last year. TONY MCDONOUGH

Saints recall ruckman for crucial Bombers clash

BIG Queenslander Tom Hickey has been recalled to the St Kilda side to face Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

He replaces fellow ruckman Billy Longer, who has withdrawn with a minor hamstring strain.

Hickey was the Saints' No.1 big man in 2016 when playing 20 games but has been out of favour with coach Alan Richardson since round five.

Richardson, however, expected him to grab his chance against the Bombers' Tom Bellchambers as he has been in "pretty good form" for Sandringham in the VFL.

"We pulled him out of the game on the weekend because we knew Billy was going to be in some doubt," he said.

"We're really excited for 'Hick'. He gets the opportunity, we know last year he played some outstanding footy for the club, and that's what we expect."

It's a pivotal game for both sides, with the seventh-placed Saints on a four-match wining streak and pushing for the top four, and the Bombers 10th and aiming to stay in touch with the top eight.

Former Essendon key defender Jake Carlisle takes on his former side for the first time. He played 85 games for the Bombers between 2010 and 2015.

"He's really focused on what he needs to do for the team. He and (fellow recruit Nathan Brown) have been really good for us down there, and we need the same again," Richardson said.

The Saints will be without suspended forward Tim Membrey.