THOMAS Bellchambers's goal to return to the AFL on Anzac Day is still a possibility, with the former Launceston ruckman making his comeback from ankle surgery in the VFL this weekend.
Essendon assistant coach Simon Goodwin yesterday confirmed the 24-year-old would line up against Bendigo Gold on Friday afternoon.
But Goodwin did not rule him out of the traditional MCG blockbuster against Collingwood the following Friday, despite the fact he will only have one competitive game under his belt for the year.
"We'll see how he goes," Goodwin said when asked if Bellchambers would need at least two weeks in the reserves in order to gain match conditioning.
"He's done a really good block of training in the past couple of weeks, so we'll assess him after this week and see if he's ready for the following week."
Bellchambers strained ligaments on both sides of his left ankle after landing on teammate Michael Hibberd's foot at training in January, with surgery repairing the lateral and medial ligaments and cleaning a small amount of cartilage damage.
The 202-centimetre, 108-kilogram big-man returned to full training in recent weeks.
Before the injury he had put in his strongest preseason since entering the AFL ranks.
His return is one Essendon is desperately waiting for, with forwards Jake Carlisle and Joe Daniher forced to carry the load in the ruck in the absence of Bellchambers and Paddy Ryder.
Bellchambers, the eighth pick in the 2008 preseason draft, has played 61 games since his debut in round 11 of that year.
He had a particularly strong year in 2013, playing 18 games, averaging 22 hitouts, kicking 28 goals (the second most at the club) and averaging 10 disposals a game.