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Riewoldt eyes AFL return against Saints

Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt says he’s dealt with a skin infection following thumb surgery but is confident of returning against St Kilda.

Riewoldt had surgery after round one and missed last week’s win over GWS.

He will need to get through Friday’s main training session to prove his fitness for Sunday’s clash.

“I’ve been cleared to play by the surgeon but it’s more about just functionally whether I can play and mark the ball. So that will hopefully happen tomorrow and then we’ll see what happens,’ Riewoldt said.

“It hasn’t been too bad. I’ve had a little tiny bit of a skin infection in it as well. That’s just part of having surgery and having open wounds and what not, having small children and everything that comes home from daycare.

“In terms of how I’m tracking, I feel like I’m tracking really good … I feel pretty confident in the body.”

In Riewoldt’s absence, powerful 22-year-old Noah Balta booted four goals in an impressive showing up forward.

“He’s so multi-talented that we feel like we can play him back, play him forward. We’ve certainly see him play both those positions and we also feel like he’s quite a capable ruckman for us as well,” Riewoldt said at Thursday’s National Pies launch.

“He’s a great asset to have in our football club and clearly he’s going to be the future of the forward line, I hope.

“There was no bigger smile in the grandstand than the one on my face watching Noah Balta go out there and ply his trade because I know he can do this sort of thing and the football club’s seen it in patches.

“Last week we saw a game where he put everything together for a full four quarters which is very, very exciting.”

Meanwhile Riewoldt stressed his support for Dustin Martin as the superstar Tiger takes personal leave away from the club.

Martin has been away from Richmond since last week as he grieves the death of his father, Shane, last December.

“Whatever Dustin needs from us, we’ll provide him,” Riewoldt said.

“We’re here for ‘Duz’ when he needs us.

“He’s obviously going through his own pathway now and when that time comes that he feels comfortable to walk back, and it’s got nothing to do with playing, but come back to the football club, we’ll welcome him back with open arms.

“So looking forward to that day.”

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