St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has hailed Dylan Roberton's return to training as a significant morale boost at the bottom-four AFL club.
Roberton is back running as he continues to undergo tests for his heart condition.
The Saints defender, who made the initial All-Australian squad last season, has not played any football since collapsing during the round-four loss to Geelong.
He will not return this season, but Richardson said Roberton is making good progress.
Richardson compared Roberton to Paddy McCartin, who has revealed he wondered a year ago if he would return to the AFL as he recovered from a succession of concussions.
"Definitely it gives the guys a lift," Richardson said of Roberton's progress.
"To hear Paddy say he was thinking he mightn't play again, I reckon Robbo would have had those thoughts.
"That's starting to shift to the positive and the players would be aware of that."
Richardson added Roberton's training is going well as doctors continue to run tests on his heart.
He's not doing everything the boys are doing, but he's really upped the ante in terms of his running volume and speed," Richardson said.
"It's designed to see how he's going and so far the medicos are really pleased, so that's incredibly exciting.
"It's heading the right way."
When Roberton returns to playing, Richardson said his extended time out of the game will mean he is like a boom recruit.
"It will be like going to the draft or going to the trade period and bringing in a bloke who last year was an All-Australian nomination," he said.
"He's one of our leaders and we can't wait to have him back."
McCartin has suffered another injury setback, ruled out for at least two games with a foot injury, but Richardson said the No.1 draft pick would deal with this latest setback.
"I don't know about sad," Richardson replied when asked about McCartin's challenges.
"It's a story of perseverance and resilience ... Paddy's a really strong character, he's a very positive person - he's a realist."
The Saints, who have won two of their last three games, will host Carlton on Friday night at Etihad Stadium.
Despite the lowly status of the two teams, Richardson has defended them playing in the prime Friday night timeslot.
"We embrace the opportunity - I'm really looking forward to seeing how our footy stacks up when it's a slightly bigger occasion," he said.
"But my main focus is on the way that we play, the way we support each other as a group.
"We've turned things around to some extent and we're looking forward to Carlton."