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Jennifer Phelan and Nathan Schmook  May 9, 2013 6:15 PM

AFL 2013 Training - Richmond 090413

Nathan Foley's return from injury is a welcome fillip for Tiger fans

We've held him back, mainly because of his importance to the side
ALMOST a year after he last played at senior level, Richmond midfielder Nathan Foley has been named to make his AFL return against Port Adelaide on Saturday at AAMI Stadium.

Foley, 27, last played in the seniors on June 1, 2012, in the Tigers' eight-point win over St Kilda before he tore his Achilles tendon at training after missing four games with a heel complaint.

Surgery ruled him out for the rest of the season leaving him to gradually build up his running over summer, from restricted-load bearing on the club's Alter-G machine, to full work back out on the track.

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He played his first VFL game on April 21 against the Northern Blues and has graduated from half a game that Sunday to a full one against Essendon's VFL side last weekend.

"He's trained incredibly hard over a long period of time and we have been what we feel has been cautious," coach Damien Hardwick said on Thursday.

"We've held him back, mainly because of his importance to the side.

"Last week was his first full game and he played three quarters the week prior, so we're pretty confident that he's ready to go.

"I asked him last week whether he thought he was ready to play and he said he'd prefer to get one more game in, so we gave him that luxury.

"I know he's ready to go this week."

The popular Tiger will be a welcome boost to the Richmond midfield for the side's second interstate trip in two weeks.

Teammate Luke McGuane recently said the players were excited Foley was on the verge of a return with his renowned work at the stoppages important to the team.

"He was one of our stars before he had the achilles problem and I'm sure he'll come back and be a very good player for us," McGuane said last month.

"He's a very humble guy but a really great guy, and the way he carries himself around the club … he's had so many horrible injuries.

"Hopefully this is the end of it for him and he can really come back and enjoy the rest of his career."

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.