James Harmes, Nick Coffield and Lachie Bramble. Picture: Western Bulldogs FC

FORMER top-10 pick Nick Coffield will make his long-awaited AFL return on Sunday, 938 days after his most recent appearance, while Western Bulldogs recruits James Harmes and Lachlan Bramble will also face Melbourne in the round one clash at the MCG.

Coffield moved from Moorabbin as part of a complex four-club trade last October, after enduring a nightmare injury run dating back to a torn anterior cruciate ligament at the start of 2022.

The 24-year-old hasn't played at senior level since round 23, 2021 and was limited to just five VFL appearances over his final two seasons at the Saints, due to lingering calf problems following his knee reconstruction. 

But after seeking a fresh start at the end of last season, Coffield has completed a full pre-season, cementing a spot in the Bulldogs' backline after impressive performance against Hawthorn in the match simulation and AAMI Community Series. 

Bramble has also bolted late in the summer to gain a spot in Luke Beveridge's best 23 after securing an AFL lifeline at the kennel during the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP). 

The 25-year-old underwent a shoulder reconstruction during the off-season after being cut by Hawthorn in October following 30 appearances for the club, but since returning to full training in January, Bramble has mounted a case for a round one spot.

Lachie Bramble in action during the AAMI Community Series match between Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium on March 2, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Bramble played in both practice matches against his former club and will become the Bulldogs' second SSP signing in successive years to secure a spot first-up, after Oskar Baker faced his old side in round one last year, less than six months after being axed by the Demons.  

Harmes moved to the Dogs in exchange for a future third-round pick last year, after being starved of opportunities in his final season at Melbourne, managing only nine AFL appearances despite strong form in the VFL.

The 2021 premiership player has put his head down over the summer and will add another dimension to an engine room that will also include prized pick Ryley Sanders. 

The 2023 pick No.6 is also expected to make his debut on Sunday after a brilliant maiden pre-season that was capped off by two excellent showings against the Hawks in recent weeks.