ESSENDON is taking a conservative approach with returning defender Marty Gleeson.
The Koroit export will return to the football field on Saturday - more than a year after he hurt his ankle in an AFL pre-season match.
Gleeson, 24, will play in a VFL practice match against Coburg.
Essendon physical performance manager Justin Crow said the 69-game defender would be managed.
"He's had a long rehab, there's been a lot of hard work and we're all excited to see him return in the VFL practice match this week," Crow told Essendon.com.au.
"Marty's still working on those end-stage things - explosiveness and other bits of pieces with his ankle - so we're still taking a slow-and-steady approach with him.
"But we're really comfortable that he's at a point where he can join in some match play at a competitive level this weekend."
"I talked to a few people around the club and there's a lot of guys - you probably wouldn't realise (how many) - that have missed a season of footy," he said at the time.
"James Kelly when he was younger broke his leg playing for Geelong, 'BJ' (Brendon Goddard) did his knee one year and missed a whole year of footy.
"I also watched a lot of documentaries. I love US sports so I watched ones on guys from there that have had significant injuries or had different things happen to them on how they've come back. Watching them gives you a lot of hope."
Essendon launches its 2019 AFL season with a road fixture against GWS Giants on Sunday.
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