RETURNING Demon Jack Trengove is ready for his "second debut" after more than two years in the football wilderness.
The 24-year-old will run out for Melbourne against Hawthorn on Saturday in what will be his first game for the club since round two, 2014, following on-going navicular injuries in his left foot.
The No.2 pick from the 2009 NAB AFL Draft had his career placed in jeopardy by the injuries and subsequent surgeries, and admitted there were times throughout his extended stint on the sidelines that he questioned whether he would get back to playing at AFL level.
"There's no doubt there were moments when you doubt yourself and I think it's only natural to have those feelings, especially when I went down with it for the second time," Trengove said on Thursday.
"But in saying that, I've had such a great support base around me … they gave me confidence I could actually get back, but there were some dark days in the gym by myself thinking 'What the hell are you doing?'
"It's all worthwhile once you get back out there and start playing again."
Trengove enters the clash with the Hawks in strong form and with valuable confidence, having averaged 24 disposals and seven tackles in his seven VFL games.
His quick return to form surprised some at Melbourne, who had him pegged for a recall after Melbourne's mid-season bye, but Trengove admitted he only felt ready for a senior call-up two weeks ago.
Trengove said he hoped his pre-game nerves would disappear once the game starts at the MCG.
"It's funny, I actually debuted against Hawthorn back in 2010 and we've got them again this weekend," he said.
"It might feel like it's my second debut, but once the siren goes and the ball's in play, hopefully it will feel like a normal game again."
Trengove said he had learned not to place too many expectations on himself over the past two years, and entered this year just wanting to enjoy football again.
It will have been nearly 800 days between his 81st and 82nd senior games, but Trengove said he saw his long-awaited inclusion as the start of the next chapter of his career.
"Ever since I got the first injury and went out with surgery, the dream has always been to get back and play AFL footy and now that's finally going to come true on Saturday. But at the same time I want it to be the start of a big journey again with the Melbourne Football Club," he said.
Teammate Christian Petracca told AFL.com.au recently that Trengove's return would provide a major boost to the morale of the team.
Petracca spent a large part of 2015 completing his rehabilitation from a season-ending knee injury alongside Trengove. The pair leant on each other throughout last year as they
"It will be absolutely massive," Petracca said.
"It's so great to see him out on the park in general. He's had two years out of the game and the way he's come back it's such a credit to him.
"He's a person I really looked up to last year. He would always be there for me and we bonded really well and he gave me a lot of advice.
"If I got the chance to run out with him I'd be so thankful because he's such a great person and I'd be super excited for him."
Trengove said he felt the love of his teammates when coach Paul Roos broke the news on Thursday that he would be facing the Hawks.
"The club has been such a fantastic support for me, and obviously being out for two whole years it'd be pretty easy to lose sight of a player and push them to the side," he said.
"But they've helped me along and progressed me as a player and individual along the way. When 'Roosy' and Nathan Jones finally said I was playing this weekend I was certainly very excited, but it seemed all the boys were as well."