RICHMOND young gun Jack Higgins could return to light training later this week, with the Tigers confident he will feature heavily next season.
Higgins suffered a brain bleed in July and hasn't played football at any level since, but following brain surgery in September, the 20-year-old has progressed strongly.
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Footy boss Neil Balme said while the club didn't want to put expectations on Higgins, he backed him to increase his loads after Christmas and get back to playing footy in 2020.
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"(Higgins is going) pretty well actually," Balme said.
"He had some really good news on his condition a couple of weeks ago, that he's virtually back to square one – which is what we were hoping for
"So he's just got to now just get himself together and I think he'll be at training on Friday – but we're just letting him have plenty of time.
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"He's more than likely to be much more serious (training-wise) after Christmas than he is before but we're really confident that he'll get back to the Jack Higgins that we knew when he first started.
"We're trying not to put any (expectations) on him but I'd be surprised if he doesn't play a hell of a lot of footy next year, if not all the season – but that's what we're hoping for but there's no pressure on him doing that."
Balme said defender Alex Rance, who recently had minor surgery on the knee that ended his 2019 season with an ACL tear in round one, was expected to also feature heavily in 2020.
"He had a huge impact around the place even though he didn't play at all last year – the way he helps his teammates and the way he encourages them," Balme said.
"He's an outstanding member of the mob so hopefully he'll be able to play all the games this year – it'll be very exciting to see him."