Darcy set for Western Bulldogs return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Darcy set for Western Bulldogs return

By Guy Hand 08/03/2007 07:27:48 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs star Luke Darcy is set to emerge from one of AFL football's worst injury nightmares to play his first match in nearly two years on Saturday.

After two knee reconstructions and 22 months out of the game, Darcy looks certain to get the green light from club doctors on Friday to play in the Bulldogs' practice match against Essendon at Geelong.

Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said the 31-year-old was expected to make his return after he survived the team's training session on Thursday unscathed.

Medical staff were satisfied with Darcy's performance at training, with only a bad reaction on Friday likely to stall his comeback.

"We'll see how he pulls up and what the medicos think," Eade said.

"I think he will play, but we could also give him another week. We'll wait and see."

Darcy, one of the game's elite players prior to his horror injury run, first tore his anterior cruciate ligament in May 2005.

He had recovered well from his initial surgery, but again snapped the ligament in pre-season training just before Christmas 2005 - putting him out of action all last season.

Eade admits Darcy is likely to have some confidence issues as he prepares to return.

Few AFL players have successfully recovered from multiple knee reconstructions to play at the top level - Melbourne forward David Schwarz and Adelaide ruckman Shaun Rehn notable exceptions.

Schwarz and Rehn each had three knee operations - Rehn bravely returning after his second to be a dual premiership player with the Crows.

Testing Darcy's psychological mettle even further is that Saturday's match will be played at Skilled Stadium - the same ground he first injured his knee playing for the Bulldogs against Geelong.

"Everyone who has an ACL injury has some doubts in their minds - Luke having two, I think there'll be no doubt he has some doubts," Eade said.

"He'll have some trepidation at some stage.

"But he's a fairly strong individual, he's trained very well and he's one person who gets a lot of confidence from the way he trains.

"He's done everything in his mind to give him the confidence."

Easing Darcy's transition is that he is likely to spend more time up forward than in the ruck, while Eade is also keen to ensure no rush for him to be back by round one.

"Hopefully he doesn't put too much pressure on himself - there's no timeframe about whether he'll be back by round one.

"That's not on the radar. It's not desperate for either him or us that he plays round one. He'll play when he's ready."

Forward Robert Murphy, also on the comeback trail from a knee reconstruction, is set to return on Saturday along with other key players Chris Grant and Adam Cooney.

Eade said Bulldogs skipper Brad Johnson and Jason Akermanis would also play after recovering from injuries which kept them out of last weekend's NAB Cup loss to Brisbane.

But midfielder Ryan Griffen will be sidelined for another week because of a corked thigh which has not fully healed.

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