North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow has felt frustrated, disappointed and isolated at various stages since rupturing his achilles in round 18 last year.
For the first time in almost 10 months he’s now able to add the excitement of an AFL recall to that list of emotions.
Swallow needs only survive the Kangaroos’ training sessions this week to be selected for Saturday’s clash with Brisbane at Etihad Stadium.
“I’m still probably lacking a bit of power in it and a bit with my jumping, but the rest of it feels fine,” Swallow said on Monday.
“I’ve pulled up really well (from two games in the VFL).”
Daniel Wells (foot) was slated to also return against Brisbane, but the midfielder did limited work away from the main group at Monday’s training session.
Swallow had yet to discuss with coach Brad Scott what his role or workload would be against the Lions, but suggested he would be right to play a full game.
The 26-year-old conceded there would be more sleepless nights before his AFL return.
But Swallow believed the first match back in the VFL had been a relatively harder hurdle to clear, revealing he contacted Jarryd Roughead before the match for more advice on the injury the Hawthorn forward suffered in 2011.
“I was actually really nervous going into that game, just with the unknown,” Swallow said.
“I gained a lot of confidence from those games in the VFL. Getting bashed around a bit, knocked over, tackling and chasing in an uncontrolled manner.
“I’ve been through that … now it’s more just about making sure I’m in a good frame of mind.”
Swallow, appointed captain of the Kangaroos in 2012, admitted that hadn’t always been easy over the course of his rehabilitation.
“You feel like a part of you is taken away,” he said.
“It’s a grind. The little niggles you feel from time to time, then you feel like you’re ready to go and they hold you back.
“You also forget how hard it is for the boys out there, you become really critical, really quickly.”