Collingwood VFL coach Dale Tapping has declared defender Marley Williams a certain starter in Saturday’s VFL clash against Essendon at Windy Hill.
Marley, who was initially named on an extended intercharge bench, makes his return to footy after avoiding a jail term - but was handed a one-year suspended sentence for an assault conviction by a West Australian court earlier this week.
He declared himself ineligible to play in both the AFL and VFL until the hearing.
Tapping said Williams was now eager to return after a solid pre-season.
“Obviously he had to go through what he had to go through, but he’s been ready to play for a while, now it’s a matter of him getting out there and playing,” Tapping said.
“He’s had a really good pre-season, actually, so he’s in good shape.”
Tapping said Williams would play about 70 to 75 per cent game time as he settled in to play a couple of VFL matches before making his AFL return.
“Marley’s been doing all the training, he just hasn’t been playing, so he feels fine and physically good to play. He’ll play on some limited game time, but he’s keen to get out there and get going,” he said.
“He feels great and he’s really looking forward to it."
Pies coach Nathan Buckley said this week that the ordeal leading up to his court trial had taken an “emotional toll” on Williams.
"My feel on it is that through the circumstances he has been involved in, if you could imagine it takes an emotional toll. There is a rollercoaster that he has ridden through the last 16 months," Buckley said.
Paul Seedsman will also return from a hip injury, while second-year flanker Tim Broomhead will resume from a wrist injury.
Tapping said he was looking forward to the duel between ruckmen Ben Hudson and Essendon’s Tom Bellchambers, and he expected key defender Nathan Brown to take on the Bombers tall when he went forward.
North Melbourne skipper Andrew Swallow has been named in the midfield for North Ballarat against Geelong at Simonds Stadium on Sunday in his first match since rupturing an Achilles tendon in round 18 last year.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said Swallow would be on limited game time, playing around 60 minutes, but if he performed well, North coach Brad Scott said, he might come into the selection frame against Gold Coast next week.
It is likely, however, that Swallow, after nine months on the sidelines, will require at least two matches in the VFL to gain match fitness.
"It's a bit of an intangible. We can't just put a set number on it or pull an arbitrary figure out of the air, but he's been training really well and with someone like him you'd think if he plays well and gets through unscathed, he pretty much becomes available for selection,” Scott said.
"But we'll just watch him and see how he goes."
It is Swallow’s first match with the Kangaroos’ part-time affiliate North Ballarat since playing in the Roosters’ 2008 premiership team. He will be hoping to lead the Roosters to their first win of the season after three losses.
Geelong’s Jesse Stringer, who avoided a suspension at the VFL Tribunal this week, will be one of a number of Cats pressing for senior selection.