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Timing of Rioli return remains a mystery

An injured Daniel Rioli gets a piggyback from skipper Trent Cotchin after the Grand Final - AFL,Daniel Rioli,Richmond Tigers,Injuries
An injured Daniel Rioli gets a piggyback from skipper Trent Cotchin after the Grand Final

THERE is still no clarity on Daniel Rioli's return from injury, with the premiership Tiger yet to join in main training as the long and cautious recovery from his broken ankle continues.

Rioli, 20, needed surgery on his foot the week after Richmond's Grand Final triumph, having injured his ankle in the final quarter of the win over Adelaide.

AFL.com.au understands he underwent a second operation earlier this year to remove plates that were inserted into the joint back in October.

While he started running in late January, he has only recently ramped up his fitness program.

Match preview: Richmond v Carlton

Coach Damien Hardwick said on Wednesday there was no set return date for Rioli as he continued to work through his rehabilitation.

"He's going OK, he's running, he's starting to do some speed work," Hardwick said.

"Where he plays or where he falls into our calculations, we're not too sure at this stage, we don't want to put a timeframe on it.

"He's progressing, which is a positive for us."

The Tigers maintain Rioli's recovery hasn't hit any hurdles and isn't taking longer than they planned.  

He was off his feet for a large part of the off-season and essentially needed to learn how to run again when he finally shed his moon boot.

The Tigers are being cautious with not overloading the 43-game forward to ensure the rest of his body remains intact and avoids injuries caused by sudden over-use.

Rioli is expected to need at least a month of serious training before being considered for a return to the field, which will almost certainly be in the VFL.

The Tigers are set to name pressure forward Shai Bolton for Thursday night's clash with Carlton as Rioli's replacement from the Grand Final team.