St Kilda coach Brett Ratten has confirmed Dougal Howard will return for this Saturday's must-win clash against Geelong, with Dan Hannebery also expected to remain in the side after pulling up well following the Saints' Round 20 win over Hawthorn.

Howard hasn't featured for the Saints since Round 16's win over Carlton after suffering a knee injury. The 26-year-old defender underwent a knee arthroscope after being substituted out of the game but trained well on Wednesday and looks fit to make the trip down the highway to Geelong.

Hannebery, meanwhile, pulled up well after his first game back in almost a year in Round 20, now set to continue his late-season run after soft tissue injuries kept him sidelined for most of the year. The 31-year-old managed 27 disposals and a goal in St Kilda's win over Hawthorn.

"Yeah he'll play for sure," Ratten said when asked about Howard.

"He's extremely important. His presence down back I think gives us confidence in the team and supports Wilkie and Battle and co."

Josh Battle left the training track early on Wednesday, while young gun Marcus Windhager also had his left quad strapped, but Ratten dismissed any concern around the duo.

"It's more just management for Josh," Ratten said.

"He's had a big load, especially with Dougal out he's probably played a little more game time than he has been.

"We had the six-day turnaround from Western Australia, the ground was heavy. The boys were probably just a little bit tired by the end of last week."

Jack Steele and Josh Battle during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between St Kilda and Collingwood (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Ratten also remained tightlipped about contract negotiations down at Moorabbin, with Hannebery, Battle and veteran Paddy Ryder without deals for next season.

Both Hannebery and Ryder have expressed their interest in playing on beyond 2022.

"I think we'll just wait," Ratten said.

"Like all players, we'll sort of just wait a little bit and make those decisions the closer we get to the end of the year."

While reports earlier in the week suggested that the Saints were interested in doing more background research on the out-of-contract Jordan De Goey before trying to lure him to RSEA Park.

"Like all free agents, we investigate everybody, especially when you're bringing a high-profile player in," he said of the chatter surrounding the controversial Magpie.

"I think all boards ask for information, it's not different at our footy club to other footy clubs.

"It doesn't matter if we're employing new staff members of players, we have to run things past the board and they have the right to challenge and ask questions.

"He's a very talented player but we're still working through that and while we are we're investigating all the free agents to see where we sit."

The Saints will head to GMHBA Stadium this weekend to take on the Cats, desperate to keep their season alive. St Kilda hasn't won in Geelong since 1999, a year when Brett Ratten was still running around in the navy blue.