REIGNING club champion Tim Taranto could make a shock return from injury for Greater Western Sydney's clash with top side Port Adelaide on the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Taranto hasn't played since last year's Grand Final because of a shoulder reconstruction but coach Leon Cameron is contemplating bringing him straight into the senior side.
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The 22-year-old would provide a double boost to the Giants' onball brigade, with former co-captain Callan Ward (soreness) a certain inclusion after missing Sunday night's victory over Hawthorn.
Taranto is one player who benefited from the COVID-19-related, multi-month season shutdown, given he originally faced missing as many as 16 matches but could now play by round six.
However, the back injury that sidelined young key defender Sam Taylor has morphed into an infection in his joints, which saw him hospitalised and now indefinitely sidelined.
"Taranto will probably put his hand up to return. He's done his 18 weeks of rehab, so having him in that selection consideration is only a positive for us," Cameron told reporters.
"So whether or not we bring him back with one or two practice matches; we'll make that decision during the week. But he's in really good shape.
"We know he's got that running ability to probably adapt straight away."
Cameron said doctors looked to be "on top of the problem" with Taylor, after they discovered late last week his issue was far more "sinister" than a routine back injury.
The 21-year-old West Australian remains in hospital but could be out by Thursday or Friday this week, although Cameron expected him to miss at least a month of football.
"He started with a back injury from the (Collingwood) game the week before but it's spiralled out of control a little bit into an infection in his joints, which has been really tough for him," he said.
"He's been in hospital probably the last three or four days and we don't really have a timeline for him – he's been knocked around a fair bit.
"His health and wellbeing is at the forefront of our minds (but) hopefully by Friday he's out of hospital and we're on top of that infection, then he can start that rehab process and building up to play again."
Lachie Keeffe performed well in Taylor's absence on Sunday and will likely fill the void while he remains out.
Cameron said it was unlikely veteran ruckman Shane Mumford would play every game from now at his age, with recruit Sam Jacobs and developing big men Kieren Briggs and Matthew Flynn other options.