JONATHON Patton has battled mental "demons" in the lead-up to Thursday night's NAB Challenge match at StarTrack Oval, just over 10 months after he suffered a season-ending knee injury at the Canberra venue.
But Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron said the bullocking 20-year-old was prepared for the challenge after clearing several significant hurdles in his short career.
Patton has been named to line up against the Sydney Swans in the pre-season hit-out after playing four quarters in last week's intraclub at Blacktown.
"There's no doubt there'll be a few demons here and there but we spoke about that during the week," Cameron said in Canberra on Wednesday evening.
"We just spoke openly. It's just natural; this is where he hurt his knee but I think the big thing about Jon is he's come a long way in terms of he's a third year player, he's matured, he's had to get over a number of hurdles, his first year with his patella.
"I think that adversity he's faced has really helped him to mature into a really young man so we look forward to him strutting his stuff here tomorrow night."
Patton trained with the squad in Canberra on Wednesday in driving rain, in a outdoor session that lasted just 15 minutes.
Patton's right knee – the one he had reconstructed after St Kilda's Rhys Stanley tackled him to the ground in round three last season – was not strapped.
Cameron said the big forward had answered every challenge during his rehab, which was approached cautiously and patiently.
"It's always tough for a big key player, whether ruck, key forward or key back to come back from a big injury but in terms of how he's gone about it, he's just been phenomenal," he said.
"We're sticking to the traditional 10 months of playing so we're very, very mindful of that.
"We're not putting any pressure on him. We're just rapt to have him out here playing some footy, enjoying his time with his mates and we'll see how he goes tomorrow night."
The Giants' prized No.1 and No.2 picks at the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Tom Boyd and Josh Kelly, won't play against the Swans while No.14 pick Cam McCarthy will also be missing.
"All our first-year players are chugging along nicely. Boyd and Kelly have had a pretty significant pre-season but we're mindful second and third-year players are probably a touch ahead of them at the moment," Cameron said.
"But, that's not to say they won't play in Wagga [against St Kilda on March 1] or the week after when we play Adelaide back at Blacktown.
"McCarthy was flying up until Christmas, was just a little bit sore in his leg and we backed him off for about four or five weeks but now he's back in full training."
However, new faces Heath Shaw, Josh Hunt, Dylan Addison, Jed Lamb and Shane Mumford have been named to play on Thursday night.
Lance Franklin won't take the field for the Swans after they elected not to name their star recruit but Cameron said their forward line would test the Giants regardless.
"People will probably look at some of the outs Sydney has but they still have about 15 premiership players playing so I look at it as a very strong side from their point of view," he said.
"In terms of Lance, it would have been great for some supporters to see him but I've just got to worry about the Giants."
Cameron said he wasn't worried about additional pressure on his club this season despite AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick's claim this week there were "no more excuses" given their multi-million dollar training and admin facility.