GREATER Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron is confident that disgruntled key forward Cam McCarthy can return to the club and play senior football this year.
McCarthy, 20, has taken indefinite personal leave to head back to Western Australia as he continues to battle homesickness.
The talented forward was a star in the first half of last season when he kicked 29 goals from his first 12 games, but struggled after the mid-season bye and managed just six more.
McCarthy shocked the Giants when he requested a trade back to Perth to play with Fremantle, a proposal that GWS refused to entertain, and the player has struggled through pre-season training since resuming in November.
Cameron said despite the latest development McCarthy would be welcomed back to the club to resume his career in 2016.
"Absolutely, if he can play with the Giants this year it would be magnificent for us," Cameron said.
"He's a highly talented, respected player of the competition, he kicked nearly 40 goals in his second year of AFL football as a young key forward.
"That sort of talent is hard to come by.
"It's been a difficult set of circumstances over the last couple of months, but it's come to this, and we feel as though it's a good outcome for everyone, and Cam's health and wellbeing is the most important thing."
Despite strong and persistent interest from the Dockers during last year's trade period – where it was rumoured the Giants knocked back an offer of two first round draft picks for McCarthy – the club stood firm and kept their prized young talent.
The decision could backfire at the end of this season if McCarthy declares he still wants to return home, with his value likely to decrease significantly if he plays few or no senior games.
Giants' chief executive Dave Matthews says the club stood by the way it handled the situation.
"Absolutely no hesitation," Matthews said.
"We didn't contemplate trading a player with the potential and talent that he's shown.
"Trade period is a difficult period for everyone in the industry and there's a lot of conjecture and speculation about what might happen, but the fact is he's been here for two years and settled and was comfortable enough to sign a contract extension until the end of 2017.
"He had an outstanding year last year, particularly the first half of the year, (he won) a NAB Rising Star (nomination), so we had no problem at all saying that he's a valued part of the club and a required player."
GWS have attempted to help offset McCarthy's homesickness by arranging visits to Sydney for his parents during the pre-season, but despite those efforts, and his closeness to the playing group, the West Australian still felt he needed to step away.
"He's had a pretty modified pre-season schedule, Leon (Cameron) and the welfare team put some steps in place to give him an opportunity to spend more time with his family," Matthews said.
"It's reached a point in recent weeks where some of the obligations that the players have in the AFL can be very demanding and very hard to meet, and I think at the moment he's unable to fulfill his obligations with some of the broader issues that he's facing.
"We're more than comfortable to say to Cam 'have some time away from the game' and we'll continue to support him from a welfare point of view for sure."