Will Ashcroft poses for a photo during Brisbane's official team photo day at Brighton Homes Arena on February 1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan says he has an "open mind" to bringing Will Ashcroft straight back into the senior team when he returns from injury next week.

Ashcroft ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Geelong last July and barring any final setbacks will be available for selection to face Melbourne in round 16.

Speaking on Thursday morning, Fagan said Ashcroft's return would make for a difficult match committee next week.

"I hold Will in the highest regard, as do his teammates," Fagan said.

"It's going to be great to have him available again and we'll just see what that looks like when we get to next week.

"I've got an open mind.


"It's too early to make that call, we haven't played this weekend yet, we don't know if we're going to get injuries, we don't know what the form is going to be like.

"There's so many what-ifs and maybes.

"A player of his ilk is very much capable of coming straight back into the team."

Fagan said Brisbane could follow the same path it used with Cam Rayner and Eric Hipwood, who both returned straight to AFL level after overcoming similar knee injuries in 2022.

The Lions coach said Ashcroft would be conditioned to play at the top level.

"The way our medical staff and fitness staff condition these guys to play, they're not conditioned to play half a game in the reserves as a build-up, they're conditioned well enough to be ready to play AFL if they're required," he said.

"We've just got to make a decision."

Will Ashcroft signs autographs ahead of the R3 match between Brisbane and Collingwood at the Gabba on March 28, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Fagan joked that Ashcroft had spent more time around the assistant coaches in recent weeks "reminding them he's about to come back".

"I reckon he'll come back a better player because he's been able to observe what goes on at the footy club for the past 12 months and take a few more things in."

Fresh off consecutive victories, Brisbane is preparing for a trip to face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

"It's really clear the way they play and it's probably really clear to them the way that we play," Fagan said.

"In many ways we're similar. We're territory sides, we like to get the ball into our front half, we like to keep it in there.

"It's who can do that the best and that's very dependent on how well each midfield goes."