Richmond utility Reece Conca’s run of rotten luck may be over.
Conca is a surprise inclusion for Friday night’s AFL clash against Essendon, one of five changes to the ladder leader’s team.
The 26-year-old’s career has constantly stalled because of injury, with his latest setback – a dislocated ankle – sidelining him after 15 consecutive appearances to start the year.
Conca only returned to action last weekend in state league ranks – and promptly copped an ankle sprain.
But Conca, who has mustered just 100 AFL games since his 2011 debut, has been cleared to take on the Bombers,
“I must admit when we heard the (ankle sprain) news … we were really concerned,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.
“It has come back less serious than what we thought … it’s about time that kid had some luck.”
Conca returns to bolster a depleted midfield for Richmond, who will be without a frontline injured quartet on Friday night: captain Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia, Kane Lambert and David Astbury.
The Tigers also dropped Ivan Soldo with ruckman Toby Nankervis and fringe players Ryan Garthwaite, Sam Lloyd and Liam Baker returning.
The swag of changes offer Essendon a golden opportunity to press their finals claims by downing the competition pacesetters – the Bombers enter the MCG in 11th place and likely to need to win both their remaining games to steal a finals berth,
Essendon replaced injured pair Orazio Fantasia and Ben McNiece with Matt Dea and Matt Guelfi.
In other notable team selection news, Fremantle captain Nat Fye returns from a six-game absence because of a hamstring strain to face Geelong on Saturday.,
GWS star Josh Kelly (concussion) has been ruled out of Saturday’s fixture against Sydney.
And Port Adelaide included All Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder to front against Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday despite doubts about his recovery from a hip injury.