Tigers hopeful of Deledio AFL return

Hopes are rising at Richmond that star utility Brett Deledio might return for the crucial Anzac eve AFL match against Melbourne.

Richmond have made another poor start to the season, with last Friday night’s horror trip to Perth against West Coast leaving them under mounting pressure with a 1-3 record.

Deledio, an All-Australian last year, has not played this season because of a quad muscle injury.

But he trained on Tuesday and the Tigers hoped he would make a strong case on Thursday for a surprise recall.

“Fingers crossed, he can train again tomorrow and get the okay from the medicos,” teammate Shaun Grigg told Triple M radio.

“I think that’s the only final hurdle … hopefully, we can get him back in.”

Grigg also confirmed Deledio was back kicking adult-sized footballs.

The nature of his leg injury meant their vice-captain at one stage was restricted to kicking smaller footballs designed for children.

“He was actually kicking the big football,” Grigg said.

Richmond also should regain their No.1 ruckman Ivan Maric, whose back injury has also prevented him playing in the senior side this season.

The Tigers are easing Maric back through the VFL.

“Ivan got through the VFL again, so I would say he will be up for selection.”

While injuries have not helped the Tigers, coach Damien Hardwick has plenty of headaches with how they are playing.

In particular, they have handballed too much early in the losses to Adelaide and West Coast.

The first quarter against Adelaide featured 31 kicks and 46 handballs while, last Friday night, they had 32 kicks and 28 handballs in the opening term against the Eagles.

“There’s no doubt it’s causing us a little bit of grief, especially early in games, with the amount of turnovers we’ve had,” Hardwick told the club website.

“We don’t want to be over-handballing for the sake of it.”

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