Garland's return hits brief delay

COLIN Garland's comeback to football after preseason ankle injury has been delayed by the VFL's fixturing department.

Melbourne officials yesterday declared the Wynyard defender was fit to play this weekend for Melbourne's VFL affiliate Casey, but it has one small obstacle - it has no game to play this weekend.

Just as the AFL did, the VFL will have a staggered start to its competition, with Casey not playing until April 6.

"Ideally Colin was at the stage where he was ready to play a game but we've known for a long time that the VFL fixture starts at the AFL's round three," Melbourne football manager Josh Mahoney said on the AFL website.

"So we'll do as much as we can within training and match simulation and he'll be ready to play a game the week after."

The VFL fixture is based on how the AFL's schedule shapes up, as well as taking into account the club's requests - including the aligning of both leagues' bye rounds.

AFL Victoria released the fixture in December with spokesman Anthony Stanguts saying on the AFL's website: "With the early start to the AFL season, that's why there's a bigger difference to the start of the VFL season."

Garland, 25, had surgery on his right ankle in January, to have a small bone spur shaved.

The runner-up in the Demons' best and fairest last year has played 101 games in the red and blue.

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