Port Adelaide star Charlie Dixon is closing in on a return to action with coach Ken Hinkley saying there is a chance he could figure against Essendon next weekend.
The Power are priced at 7/4 to make finals after recovering from a 0-5 start to the season to win the last four games and could be boosted further by the return of Dixon.
The 31-year-old will miss out when Port Adelaide face Geelong this weekend and will instead get some much-needed match practice in the SANFL.
As long as he comes through okay then the influential forward will take another step closer to returning to the AFL side. Dixon has not figured since undergoing an ankle operation back in February.
"He has got a big body that’s got to carry around that ankle, and it’s going to take him a bit of time to keep moving with it," Hinkley said.
"But we think we’re getting really close to when he’s ready. We want to give him the best chance to be successful when he plays, and we just need to be a little bit patient. It’s hard sometimes to stay in the patient spot."
Meanwhile Hinkley says his return will depend on how Dixon feels physically, not how well he performs in the SANFL.
"It won’t be about how many marks he takes or goals he kicks, it’s just the way he gets through physically, because clearly he’s a very, very good AFL player," Hinkley added.