Claremont will treat Anthony Morabito as a trump card, with the WAFL club targeting a round five playing return for the injury-prone midfielder.
The 25-year-old is due to join full training next week for the first time this year.
Having missed a significant chunk of the pre-season and given his extensive injury history, Morabito will be given time to sharpen his skills and fitness over the next month.
Claremont football manager Darcy Coffey said the former Docker would likely be given a fortnight in the reserves before being considered for a league promotion.
“We’re thinking probably around round five that he’ll start playing some footy,” Coffey said.
“He’s just been running until now. He hasn’t been kicking any footies or been involved in direct training.
“By round four or five, I’m hopeful he might be able to roll out for the twos. He’s in really good nick.”
Morabito signed with Claremont in January after mulling over retiring from senior football.
His pre-season has been delayed by surgery at the end of last season to repair a serious thigh muscle tear. The No.4 pick in the 2009 AFL national draft, Morabito’s career at the top level was cruelled by three knee reconstructions. He managed only 26 games for Fremantle over seven seasons.
Claremont have pulled a selection surprise by naming dual premiership player Tom Lee at centre-half forward for their season opener against East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval today. Coffey had all but ruled out Lee earlier in the week with a shoulder injury, but the Tigers intend to play their boom recruit before a bye in the second round.
Scans have also cleared midfielder Jared Hardisty of serious injury. The former Hawthorn draftee is only expected to miss one week with an ankle sprain.
East Fremantle have named former Collingwood defender Jonathan Marsh in a back pocket, but coach Rob Wiley has flagged multiple roles for his 193cm recruit.
“The last couple of years has been as a back man, but he started off through his juniors as a midfielder,” Wiley said. “We played him a bit in both areas and I also believe he can go up forward. He’s such a good size.”