Former Melbourne captain Jack Trengove is on the verge of a return to AFL football, almost exactly two years after being sidelined with a foot injury.
The 24-year-old got through an intraclub practice match with VFL team Casey on Good Friday, playing on the wing and at half forward, and now looks set to play in the Scorpions practice match against Box Hill on Saturday April 2.
Afterwards he said he was “certainly starting to believe more and more with each session I tick off now”.
Demons teammate Christian Petracca also played his first match since missing his debut season due to a knee reconstruction, and produced a best afield performance.
Trengove has not played at AFL level since Round 2, 2014, having several operations on the navicular bone in his left foot over the past two seasons.
He began running at the start of August, a milestone his teammates celebrated by organising a banner that read “Congratulations Jack 50m run through”. He gradually ramped up the intensity of his workload ahead of the club’s start to preseason training on November 23, and in February he joined in on full tackling drills and ball work.
Melbourne captain Nathan Jones described Trengove as “the ultimate professional with his recovery and one of the club’s great blokes”.
“At one stage it looked like it could have been all over,” Jones said.
“He’s continued to tick every single box and the main thing is how he’s been able to deal with that mentally.
“His personality hasn’t shifted, he hasn’t dropped his head, he’s stayed positive the whole time and to see him get his chance and run out there this week … to play a game again is going to provide some real inspiration to the group.
“Hopefully it’s not too far away that he can find some form and we can see him back at AFL level.”
In October Trengove said that “there was a fair while there where I felt like I was belting my head against a brick wall and not getting very far”.
“But when you go from walking to jogging and doing some running you feel like you’ve made some fair inroads and you can certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel now.”
Trengove knows that this season is a pivotal one in his AFL career.
“The reality is that it’s a pretty ruthless sport and we’ve seen in recent years that it’s getting more ruthless in terms of contracts and clubs looking to see what’s best for them,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that I’m in for a long year in terms of trying to put my best foot forward and play some good footy to warrant another contract.
“That’s the plan at this stage and hopefully I can do that.”
During his injury lay-off, Trengove spoke to aflplayers.com.au about how he dealt with being an AFL footballer who could not get out onto the park to play football.