St Kilda football boss Simon Lethlean reckons the AFL club would be "mad not to" reunite with Paddy McCartin should he return to full health.
But Lethlean admits it's impossible to know whether the key forward will ever make it back to senior football after his battle with repeat concussions.
The Saints have delisted McCartin in a mutual decision aimed at allowing the 23-year-old to focus on his recovery.
The final year of McCartin's contract will be paid out in full and he will retain full access to St Kilda's doctors and facilities.
McCartin remains hopeful of resuming his AFL career after a break in 2020 and the Saints haven't closed the door on adding him back to their list, although he will have the option of joining another club as a delisted free agent.
"If he presents this time next year ... at senior-level fitness, we'd be mad not to," Lethlean told reporters on Monday.
"He's a pretty important person in this club and the playing group and he's a pretty talented player.
"If he wanted to join the Saints and was fit and ready to go, yeah we'd be up for it."
Unfortunately for McCartin, it's a big if.
The 2014 No.1 draft pick hasn't played an AFL game since round 16, 2018.
He suffered his most recent concussion - his eighth - in the 2019 pre-season and has not featured at any level of football since.
"I'm not sure what the level of confidence is, really," Lethlean said.
"The first step is to get back to full health so he can actually then start conditioning for footy. It'll really be week to week and month to month.
"He thinks this gives him the best chance to, come this time next year, be at a fitness level where an AFL club - including the Saints, very much so - would consider getting him back on the list to get going again.
"But there's a fair bit to go between now and then."
McCartin, who has played 35 AFL games since debuting in 2015, travelled to the United States earlier this year where he saw a team of neurology specialists.
Lethlean said the Saints had offered McCartin a role in their football department next season, potentially working with their VFL affiliate Sandringham.
Australian Associated Press