Anthony Morabito could return to the Fremantle lineup as soon as this weekend. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
If Anthony Morabito takes his place in Fremantle’s side to tackle Richmond at the MCG on Saturday, it will be 1372 days since his last AFL game.
Three knee reconstructions, back-to-back-to-back, will put some daylight between opportunities for any player.
But after eight games in the WAFL, this weekend could end a frustrating period for the young man who showed so much promise in his 23 games during the 2010 season.
And even if Ross Lyon and the Dockers medical staff decide that this isn’t the week, Morabito’s return is imminent.
“He's under serious consideration,” Lyon admitted on Wedneday, finding it difficult to ignore the 22 year-old's 28 possessions and three-goal game for Peel Thunder last weekend.
“But it is at the really exciting stage. I thought he jumped a level on the weekend. It was as well as I've seen Anthony play this year, and clearly since I've been here. It's really exciting.”
“He's working really hard. We've been banging in extra work to him, and actually flattening him out a bit for the WAFL, so a plan to load him heavily, because he's still trying to make some ground up on the others.”
Lyon says the improvement has been noticeable and that the rewards are coming.
Morabito has averaged 21.4 touches a game in the WAFL this season and kicked eight goals.
“I'm sure if you ask Anthony he'll go 'I'm ready, and I want to play this week',” Lyon said.
“But he's like the others; he goes through a selection process based on our objective of winning the game.”
Hayden Ballantyne being found not-guilty of rough conduct by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night may stall Morabito’s return by a week or two though.
As the Dockers chase their fourth consecutive win this weekend and push for a spot in the top four, most players have found good form.
And the injured players that need replacing are tall defenders in Michael Johnson and Luke McPharlin, with Alex Silvagni the obvious choice to replace them (perhaps Clancee Pearce also).
“It's a very serious discussion. First and foremost, our obligation is to win games of football and pick the best possible team,” Lyon said of Morabito’s inclusion.
“If romance was to purely come into it, he would play this week. But our objective is the four points. So is Anthony going to help us, or not?
“Is he the best chance, and is he ready?
“So we're going to work through all of that. And again, he's still got to get through the last session tomorrow like all the others.”