Jacob Hopper is tackled during Richmond's clash against West Coast in round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

RICHMOND midfielder Jacob Hopper is set to return for just his fourth game of 2024 this Sunday against Carlton, but star Dustin Martin might not face the Blues at the MCG. 

Hopper hasn't played since straining his hamstring on Anzac Day Eve in his first game back after missing five weeks due to knee surgery. 

But after pushing to return before Richmond's mid-season bye, the former Greater Western Sydney midfielder is expected to play this weekend after banking the extra time off.  

Richmond will face Michael Voss' side without star key forward Tom Lynch after the All-Australian suffered a minor hamstring setback in his return from hamstring tendon surgery in Martin's 300th game against Hawthorn in round 14. 

"Similar to 'Lynchy', he (Hopper) was in my office last week trying to get a game and he was probably ready, but based on the fact he hadn't had the volume (of training) that 'Lynchy' had had (he was held back). He got an extra 15 days, so he will get through today and play," Adem Yze told reporters on Thursday. 

Martin has returned to the Swinburne Centre since playing his milestone game before the bye, with the Brownlow medallist training at the club, but Yze didn't confirm his spot against Carlton.

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"He'll train today and we'll sit down with him later this afternoon and work out a plan. He is going to be one of those players that we start to prepare for eight-day breaks and six-day breaks," Yze said.

"If he plays this weekend, there is a high risk he won't play against Freo, so we'll sit down and try and map out a plan for a lot of those older players, and he is one of those. We'll finalise that today whether he plays or not this week. He will struggle to play both."

Just a month after arriving at the club via pick No.2 in the AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, Jacob Blight is in the frame to make his debut this weekend to help solve some of the issues in defence. 

With Lynch joining Samson Ryan on the sidelines, along with key-position players Josh Gibcus, Tylar Young and Mykelti Lefau – all three are out with ACL tears – Yze is considering the 22-year-old after two strong performances in the VFL, with Noah Balta an option in attack again.

Noah Balta under pressure during the round 10 match between Brisbane and Richmond at the Gabba, May 18, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"He has been in the frame for a couple of weeks, so we'll get through training today," he said.

"It is unfortunate that Samson Ryan is going to miss again this week, so we might have to get creative with our talls this week. We are struggling with talls at the moment. 

"He is in good form, so if we pick him, we feel like he can have a really good impact at AFL level, which is really impressive for a young kid who walked into our footy club a few weeks ago."