No pressure on Robbie return

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 15 Maret 2013 | 12.50

Robbie Gray at Moonta Bay during the Port Adelaide Power Football Club Community Camp on the Yorke Peninsula. Picture: Matt Turner Source: The Advertiser

PORT Adelaide forward Robbie Gray will make his comeback from knee surgery earlier than expected in the SANFL tomorrow.

But Power coach Ken Hinkley is putting no timeline on when Gray will return to AFL action this season.

"He'll play a half (for West Adelaide) this week and hopefully a bit longer next week and we'll progress from there," said Hinkley of his valued pinch-hitting midfielder.

"He is still in that rehab phase. We're just getting him ready and the best chance to be available for AFL football when his knee is ready to go. That is the important thing. And it is not far away.

"It is definitely not going to be far away for Robbie because he has moved really well for seven weeks on the training track.

"It is not something we are worried about. It's about ticking off the boxes to make sure that Robbie starts to build for competitive football.

"It's an open-ended (return). I'd love nothing better than it to be as soon as it possibly can, but we'll see a glimpse on Saturday night on how far away that might be."

At AFL level, the Power on Saturday will have two key pieces of its jigsaw puzzle in attack step up their claims for a place in the premiership-opening 22 - Essendon recruit Angus Monfries and highly rated key forward John Butcher. Each is to play a half against AFL premier Sydney at AAMI Stadium.

Port Adelaide recruit Angus Monfries. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: The Advertiser

Monfries is resuming from a hamstring strain suffered in Port's NAB Cup openers and Butcher is back in action after double hip surgery in August.

"Angus comes back at an ideal time, really," Hinkley said.

"We'll get half a game into him this week and get him ready for Round 1 (against Melbourne on the MCG on March 31). We're really confident.

"Butcher will be a bit like Monfries. We thought it was important John get a taste for the (AFL) level and give himself the chance to be available for Round 1. This is the only opportunity before them to get him to play at AFL standard.

"He (Buchter) is really excited. He's had a long layoff, but he's been training and playing (SANFL trials) for a little while now so it is now a matter of stepping him up to the next level - and what a great opportunity against the Swans."

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