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Sandy / Saints Plans - Pelchen

ST KILDA will buck the AFL trend of fielding its own reserves, revealing plans to stick with VFL partner Sandringham.

Saints head of football Chris Pelchen said repairing the turbulent alignment was one of his first key objectives since crossing from Hawthorn last year.

"It'd been well publicised there'd been some challenges in the alignment," Pelchen said.

"We respect how important the VFL competition is to the development of AFL players. And we felt at St Kilda that hadn't been maximised."

He has started a Saints player academy to enhance player progression this year, with Zebras coach Simon McPhee an integral part.

Sandringham has also enjoyed on-field benefits, with club powerbrokers embracing the support which has the one-time VFL force again a contender after four fruitless seasons.

Pelchen wants to mirror the strong affiliation he helped construct between Hawthorn and Box Hill and said providing a pathway for VFL-listed talent to AFL clubs was a key measure of success.

Zebras Adam Cockie, Myke Cook, Jackson Coleman, James Hallahan and Michael Sikora are all on early AFL draft radars.

But Pelchen admitted one challenge the alignment faced was upgrading Sandy’s Trevor Barker Oval to AFL dimensions.

"We have a strong desire for our players to play on a ground of similar (AFL size)," he said.

The Saints, Zebras and Bayside Council are in talks about increasing the surface size, but Pelchen would not rule out a return to Moorabbin in the future, where St Kilda still holds the lease.

Edited by: Saintgail on 20/04/2012 - 00:49