FORGOTTEN Geelong ruckman Hamish McIntosh could be in line for a shock round one return.

After a raft of injury setbacks, including knee, ankle and Achilles problems, McIntosh is set to play his first game in the blue and white hoops in the NAB Challenge against Melbourne in Alice Springs next Friday. 

With a practice match against North Melbourne to follow, McIntosh could be in line for the Cats' season opener at home to Adelaide. 

It’s been 648 days since the 29-year-old last played football at any level – for former side North Melbourne in round seven, 2012. 

But it is the prospect of home and away football, and adding to his 107 career games, that excites the former Roo.

“We play my old mob North (Melbourne) the week after (in a practice match). If the form’s alright and I get through those games, fingers crossed I’d love to get up for round one,” McIntosh told Sportsday Radio. 

“I don’t try to look too far in advance, let’s try and get through this one first.

“It’s been a really tough two years.

“I’ve certainly missed it, it’s been a long journey. Right now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’m getting there.”

McIntosh was left out of the Cats’ opening NAB Challenge win over Collingwood as an extra precaution for his body.

Provided he completes three final training sessions, he will be on the flight to the Red Centre after a faultless pre-season. 

“I don’t really care how I go, I just want to get out there and get through the game,” he said.

“Since August (last year) we pretty much put a line through the season and I’ve been training since then.

“I’ve done a lot of strength work and slowly building up my running from there. 

“I’ve been going up to six months with no hiccups. I’ve done a lot of training and a got lot of work into my body up until Christmas and then from January full training and full contact like the other boys.”

McIntosh, who signed a three-year deal at Geelong prior to last season, is aware of the impact his return will play on his body. 

“We do a lot of intra-clubs at training, even then for the first couple, I was getting quite nervous and the old jelly legs,” he said.

“I was blowing quite hard quite early because you get the nervous energy which you don’t get too often at most training sessions. 

“I imagine when I play that first game I’m going to have a heart attack in the first two minutes, I’m going to be panicking and thinking where all my fitness has gone.”

McIntosh hinted Nathan Vardy is set to spend more time forward in 2014, filling the void left by James Podsiadly after departing for Adelaide. 

That leaves room in the ruck division for McIntosh to partner Dawson Simpson with Mark Blicavs set to be unleashed as a utility.