MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Josh Bruce of the Saints looks dejected after defeat during the round two AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the St Kilda Saints at Etihad Stadium on March 30, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

St Kilda will be without key forward Josh Bruce for the next 6-8 weeks after suffering a back injury during training on Thursday.

Bruce’s back flared up at training during the week and the injury was deemed to be some bone stress, which will keep the forward sidelines for up to two months.

“It’s all happened reasonably quickly after pulling up pretty sore from training on Thursday, not being able to complete the session,” Richardson told reporters on Saturday.

“So there will be a little bit more work done in that space to just really determine what his recovery process and length of time looks like.

“He had some injuries at GWS but with us he’s been able to string some footy together, certainly string some training together.

“He’s become a really important person around our footy club, obviously primarily as a player but also his leadership. It’s disappointing not to have him there, no doubt about that.”

The forward played in the Saints’ opening three matches of the season, but could only manage four goals to his name.

Bruce was one of St Kilda’s most dangerous forwards last season, booting 36 goals from 20 games, to finish just two goals behind Tim Membrey as the club’s leading goalkicker.