GWS Giants forward Jonathon Patton will play his first game back from a second knee reconstruction the same weekend his AFL side tries to shackle their former teammate Josh Bruce.
Patton is scheduled to play about 50 minutes for the Giants reserves in the NEAFL on Sunday, in his first hit-out for almost 11 months.
“It’s taken a few weeks to build his confidence, he’s training really well and we’re rapt that he’s coming back this week,” Giants’ coach Leon Cameron said on Thursday.
Cameron said the plan was for Patton to play 60 to 70 minutes in a second game and about 100 in a third.
“From there, we’ll start judging whether or not his performances are ready for an AFL level,” Cameron said.
“But don’t be surprised if it’s four, five or five six weeks before he gets an opportunity to play AFL footy.”
Cameron acknowledged the 7-6 Giants face a pivotal game on Sunday at home to St Kilda after dropping to ninth following three successive losses.
His defence have the task of thwarting a Saints forward line boasting Bruce and Nick Riewoldt.
Bruce, who played 14 games for GWS in 2012-13, has flourished since moving to the Saints.
He’s kicked 37 goals to be joint second with the Giants’ Jeremy Cameron in the Coleman Medal race.
“We rolled out a contract to him but he thought he could get other opportunities elsewhere,” Cameron said.
“It was disappointing to lose Josh but by the same token we’re rapt with the way he’s going.
“Anyone who leaves our footy club on the right terms goes with our blessing.
“We always knew he could take some really good marks and he had a big motor.
“He had probably one or two years of interruptions here with pre-seasons because of his shins.”
Cameron will have some more artillery to throw at the Saints forwards after being without his four main key defenders against Richmond last week.
He said up to two out of Nick Haynes, Adam Tomlinson and Lachie Plowman were in contention for selection, with midfielder Stephen Coniglio also set to return from injury.
Cameron has backed his midfielder Toby Greene, who was fined $1500 earlier in the week for spitting at Richmond and former Giants midfielder Anthony Miles.
“Clearly they’ve only shown one angle on it instead of the other angle we took that was an angle of probably just frustration more than deliberately (spitting) at Anthony,” Cameron said.
“I’ll take Toby for his word, he’s a really good kid. It’s been an interesting week for him, a tough week for him but I’ll back him in every day of the week.”