JACK Trengove is daring to dream of an AFL return sooner rather than later after taking another significant leap in his comeback from a serious foot injury in Friday's VFL intraclub match at Gosch's Paddock.
The practice match, which featured a gamut of Demons-listed players, including Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw and Heritier Lumumba, marked the first time Trengove has participated in 18 on 18 match simulation since he returned from long-term injury.
The 24-year-old moved well during the two-hour session, of which an hour was dedicated to match simulation, and is confident the navicular fracture that threatened to end his career has been consigned to the past.
"Right from the outset, when you do get a long-term injury, one thing you can lose sight of is believing that you can play again," Trengove said after the practice match.
"I'm certainly starting to believe more and more with each session I tick off now.
"The dream is still to certainly get back out on the MCG and the club's a really exciting place to be around at the moment, and I want to be apart of that and get amongst it, because I don't want to miss out."
Trengove, who has not played since round two, 2014, spent the majority of his time on the wing and at half-forward on Friday where he ran hard to receive from teammates, while he also took an impressive pack mark deep in attack where he judged the flight of the ball better than his opponent.
The former co-captain is putting his hand up to play in the Casey Scorpions' final practice match against Box Hill next weekend, albeit on restricted minutes, and believes he'll need a solid month of football at VFL level before being considered for the senior squad.
After a promising start to his career, Trengove had multiple surgeries on his troublesome left foot in 2014, first in April and then in November.
"I want to make sure that I'm getting as much confidence in the body as possible," Trengove said.
"The way AFL footy is played these days you've got to be at peak fitness so I'll make sure I'm at that level before putting my hand up to play."
Petracca, who was also playing his first match after having his debut season wiped out by a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury, showed exactly why there are such big wraps on him.
The No.2 pick from the 2014 NAB AFL Draft was the best player on the field by a fair margin, displaying his renowned power off the mark and supreme confidence to take the game on.
Wow it felt good to have a little taste of a game today with my rehab brother @jtren9— christian petracca (@cpetracca7) March 25, 2016
The 20-year-old, who is making his return from a broken toe suffered while playing basketball in the off-season, will be given a full month of football at VFL level before putting his hand up for senior selection.
However, based on Friday's performance, Demons fans might not be waiting too long to see Petracca running out in red and blue for the first time.
"We're not putting any limits on him and if he earns his spot, he earns his spot," Trengove said.
"Today he definitely put his best foot forward and he's going to take a little while to get his match fitness, as well as I am, but as soon as the medical staff give their tick of approval I'm sure the coaching staff will be keen to get him in there."
Brayshaw laid a couple of big tackles and used the ball efficiently, while Lumumba won a stack of the footy in defence. Both will be well and truly in the selection mix for Melbourne's round two clash against Essendon on Saturday week.
Sam Weideman, picked by the club at No.9 in last year's draft, also displayed some positive signs with a number of nice marks outstretched above his opponent.
The only injury concern for the Demons came when rookie Max King hobbled from the field late in the match after rolling his left ankle.
A good little turnout at Gosch's Paddock today - thanks to everyone who came down for a look! 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/frciEtuQHS— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) March 25, 2016
King, who has already had an injury-interrupted pre-season, is yet to make his debut for the Demons and is in his third season on Melbourne's rookie list.
The club's senior team had a light run on Friday morning before the practice match and both Lynden Dunn and Jack Grimes, who are listed as emergencies for Saturday's clash with Greater Western Sydney, were part of that.
Fellow emergency Billy Stretch played in the intra-club clash and broke away from congestion on a few occasions to show his natural dashing ability.