DRAFT contender Jamieson Ballantyne is pencilling in an AFL under 18 championships game for his return from a foot injury.
The Portland export is sidelined with bone stress but is eager to run out for Vic Country against Western Australia at Geelong's GMHBA Stadium on Sunday, July 17.
Ballantyne, 19, said he was given a chance as an overage prospect and wanted to be available for that game - the third of four in the series for Vic Country.
"That is the plan. I have been talking to the doctors at the (Western) Bulldogs and they have said that is a realistic date to be back," he told The Standard.
"Usually you wouldn't be back that early with this sort of injury but given they are pretty important games they understand I don't want to miss anymore than two of them."
The midfielder, who plays NAB League for GWV Rebels and VFL for Footscray, was part of the Vic Country program last year and was given another opportunity to impress ahead of this year's AFL national draft.
"Not many 19 year olds get selected but I was fortunate to get selected as a 19-year-old," Ballantyne said.
"It's usually based around recruiters. Last year Noah Gribble was the only 19-year-old to play Vic Country."
Ballantyne has been sidelined for three weeks so far after noticing an issue with his foot.
It came after he'd made his VFL debut for Footscray and played two AFL-organised Young Guns matches in front of club recruiters.
"I have a bit of bone stress in my foot but I was lucky we got on top of it before it turned into a stress fracture," he said.
"I have been doing all the right things with rehab. I was on crutches for seven to 10 days, got off them last week and am back walking.
"I have been doing a lot of bike (riding), swimming and gym (sessions) still; I'm just doing everything I can so when I come back I am ready to go."
The Geelong-based teenager, who is working as a teacher's aide at Newcombe Primary School, first noticed an issue with his foot while running.
"It was a little bit of an ache in my foot and I thought maybe it was my boots," he said.
"We had a week off and I went for a few runs and I have pretty comfy runners and I could still feel it in them and I thought 'that's a bit weird' so the next night at training I got it checked out.
"They said 'we don't think it will be much but we'll get a scan in case'. We got the scan and it wasn't the news we wanted but at least I hadn't fractured it."
Ballantyne has played a mixture of inside midfield and as a wingman in 2022 as he adds more strings to his repertoire as he "tries to put my best foot forward for the draft".
"Round one for Rebels I was pretty happy with my performance onball, just to show a bit more of that contested work," he said.
"I feel my Rebels' form (overall) hasn't been unreal, there's definitely things I have been wanting to work on, but in saying that stats-wise I am looking good I guess, averaging 20 or 21, and I was laying a lot of tackles."
Ballantyne, who has played senior football for home club Portland this season, said he was deployed on a wing for the Young Guns contests where he could use his strong running capabilities.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.