Port Adelaide forward Jay Schulz’s preparation for his AFL comeback isn’t ideal, coach Ken Hinkley says.
Schulz will play against Richmond on Friday night – his first AFL match since round one when he suffered a back injury.
Schulz played a state league match a fortnight ago and Hinkley admits he would have liked the attacker to have had more game time before returning to the AFL.
But Port’s AFL and state league sides both had a bye last weekend.
“We know everyone needs the bye but for Jay’s preparation, ideally he could have got another game,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.
“But we have done what we can to manage that.
“He is a high-class player and has been a high-class player at this club for a long time so we’re just happy to have him back in the team.”
Schulz is among three changes to Port’s side for the crucial fixture against the Tigers – the loser will slip three wins outside the top eight.
Defender Jack Hombsch returns from a hamstring strain and utility Kane Mitchell has been upgraded from the rookie list.
Sam Gray and Paul Stewart have been dropped while Dougal Howard suffered a season-ending knee injury in Port’s loss to Fremantle last start.
Hinkley described the Richmond game as a must-win – both clubs have six wins and seven losses and are struggling to keep in touch of the top eight.
“It’s a must-win game, isn’t it,” he said.
“It’s a must play to our ability, that is what it must be for us as much as anything.
“A lot of times you spend worrying about the end result. I think we have got to worry about the first contest, the first opportunity to play the way we want to play and that will hopefully give us the opportunity to win.
“We go into every game thinking it’s a must win game, whether it’s round one or round 23.
“Whatever happens for the rest of the year, I will go into every game thinking we must win this game of football because it’s what we’re here to do – we’re here to win.”