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Rozee looking good for Port return

Football

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is “bullish” about Connor Rozee’s chances of returning to AFL action in round two, with the Power already showing off its considerable depth in a strong first showing on Sunday.

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Rozee had surgery to remove a small piece of scar tissue next to a joint on the outside of his right foot less than a fortnight ago.

The procedure took place on March 9, after the 21-year-old played in the Power’s final pre-season match.

Rozee has been making positive progress in his recovery and he is expected to be cleared to take on Essendon at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

“We’re bullish that he’ll be available,” Hinkley said.

“He did some bike on Thursday, he ran on Saturday and he should progress from there.

“Part of our planning with the (timing of the) surgery was to get some football into him (during pre-season) so that if everything went well, which it did, we’d be able to fast-track him pretty quick.”

But Hinkley insisted Port Adelaide won’t rush the young star this week if he’s not ready to play.

“He’ll have to be right because we made the decision to do the surgery to make sure he’s got the best chance to have a great season,” Hinkley said.

“I’ve got to sit here and say, I’m pretty excited about Connor Rozee coming back into our team. He adds a bit.”

Vice-captain Hamish Hartlett is also set to return from a hamstring injury to bolster a Power side that thumped North Melbourne by 52 points in round one.

Riley Bonner tore a hamstring against the Kangaros and joins Sam Powell-Pepper (personal leave) as the only players from Port’s frontline team who are unavailable.

Essendon suffered a first-up defeat to Hawthorn but impressed Hinkley, who was on hand at Marvel Stadium and witnessed their eight-goal onslaught during the second quarter first-hand.

“They’ll be a threat, they always are,” Hinkley said.

“Their best is so good. They’re so fast and so damaging.”

Former Essendon forward Orazio Fantasia will confront his old side for the first time since last November’s trade move to Port Adelaide and is in good form, having kicked four goals on his Power debut.

Hinkley was thrilled with strong contributions by Fantasia and fellow new recruit Aliir Aliir in Port’s round-one win in Melbourne yesterday.

It was a strong start for Port after they fell marginally short against eventual premiers Richmond in a preliminary final last year.

“(Fantasia) has been a really solid addition to the club, as has Aliir,” Hinkley said.

“In their first game for the club, it’s always nice for them to come in and have an impact and also be part of a win.

“There’s a bright future for us and them together. That will be positive for both boys.”

Fantasia was a key contributor as Port put the Kangaroos to the sword with eight second-quarter goals, and kicked three for the term himself.

It was the first time in almost two years the injury-plagued small forward finished with at least four goals in a match and was just one major short of his career-best haul.

There will be a huge spotlight on the 25-year-old in the build-up to round two as he prepares to face his old side in Adelaide on Saturday.

Fantasia played 80 matches for the Bombers before securing a trade home to South Australia last November.

“It’s probably more an individual thing, how to handle it,” Hinkley said.

“He knows he’s now part of Port Adelaide, he’s back home in Adelaide, he’s very happy and physically he’s in good shape.

“His job is to play well next week. There’ll be challenges and we can’t hide from the fact that he’s playing against his old club.

“He spent eight years there and he’s got great mates and friendships that he made there … but next week his time’s going to be spent for Port Adelaide and hopefully beating Essendon.”

– AAP

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