Richmond hope to have three of their most important players back in action for Sunday’s AFL clash against Melbourne.
The 13th-placed Tigers have made yet another sluggish start to a season, winning only one of their first four games in the absence of talismanic duo Ivan Maric (back) and Brett Deledio (quad).
Ruckman Maric is certain to be recalled for the MCG date against the Demons, having proved his fitness in the VFL.
Deledio is set to be included in an expanded 23-man squad on Thursday evening.
But as he has not played at any level since the pre-season NAB Challenge a final call on his availability won’t be made until the weekend.
Coach Damien Hardwick said the 29-year-old Deledio made a significant breakthrough last weekend, when his quad improved enough for him to kick a full-sized AFL ball.
“From our point of view it’s been a long process and one that we think we’re over the hump,” Hardwick said on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a tough call because he’s an important player.
“We’d love to have him playing this week but we’ve also got a long season in front of us.”
Maric will likely come in as a straight swap for Shaun Hampson, who failed to finish last weekend’s heavy loss to West Coast in Perth.
“He’s got enough minutes into himself now so we’re looking forward to having him back,” Hardwick said.
“He’s obviously an important player and also a spiritual leader for our footy club.”
The third significant inclusion for Richmond is set to be prolific ball-winner Anthony Miles, who regained form and fitness in the reserves last weekend.
Miles played all 23 games last season and finished fourth in Richmond’s best and fairest award.
Hardwick insisted it wouldn’t take much for the Tigers to turn their form around, as they did last year.
“I think back to last year when we were two-and-four and in the Collingwood game we were under the pump at quarter-time and then all of a sudden it just clicked,” he said.
“I think we won 13 of our next 16 games.
“This group is more than capable.”