A week after almost suiting up for West Coast in the WAFL, Port Adelaide forward Charlie Dixon will return to the more familiar surroundings of the SANFL in a bid to prove he is ready for an AFL return.
Dixon hasn't featured at AFL level since undergoing ankle surgery in February and Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has ruled out a return for Saturday's clash with Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.
The 31-year-old spearhead booted a goal from 10 disposals in his playing return via the SANFL a fortnight ago, but last week's bye saw Port Adelaide reach out to AFL rivals West Coast in a bid to get Dixon some game time in the WAFL.
The Eagles' injury and COVID woes meant their WAFL side was down to the bare bones, with the club even forced to borrow two players from their opponents in last week's 123-point loss to East Fremantle.
Dixon's bid to play for West Coast's WAFL side was eventually knocked back, and he'll suit up in Sunday's SANFL match against West Adelaide before pushing for an AFL return next week.
"He has got a big body that's got to carry around that ankle, and it's going to take him a bit of time to keep moving with it," Hinkley said.
"But we think we're getting really close to when he's ready.
"We want to give him the best chance to be successful when he plays, and we just need to be a little bit patient. It's hard sometimes to stay in the patient spot."
Hinkley said how Dixon feels physically rather than his statistics will be the determining factor of whether he plays in next week's home clash with Essendon.
"It won't be about how many marks he takes or goals he kicks, it's just the way he gets through physically, because clearly he's a very, very good AFL player," Hinkley said.
Last week's unused sub Orazio Fantasia, who underwent knee surgery earlier this year, is again set to be named as the 23rd player.
The Power will be boosted by the return of captain Tom Jonas and midfielder Trent Dumont from the health and safety protocols.
Geelong forward Gary Rohan will play his first game of the year after recovering from injury, while Jed Bews has also been included.
Port Adelaide's season looked set to plunge into chaos after slumping to 0-5, but four straight wins have thrust them back into the finals mix.
The Power have lost their past seven matches at GMHBA Stadium, with their most recent win there coming in 2007.
Australian Associated Press
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