NORTH Melbourne's beleaguered backline is on the cusp of receiving a much-needed injection of experience, with veteran defender Robbie Tarrant set to make his long-awaited return through the VFL this weekend.
Tarrant has been sidelined since March, with the club understandably taking a patient approach to his recovery after undergoing successful surgery to remove a small mass on his kidney.
His absence through the season's first 10 games has been compounded by Aidan Corr's long-term toe injury, with fellow senior defenders Aiden Bonar (ankle) and Luke McDonald (pectoral) also sidelined.
But the 32-year-old is expected to make his comeback through the VFL this weekend, where he is likely to play limited minutes in North Melbourne's clash with Coburg at Arden Street on Saturday.
The Kangaroos are hopeful of Tarrant eventually making his return to senior action after the club's bye in round 12, where he will provide desperately required support for key-position pair Ben McKay and Josh Walker.
As reported by AFL.com.au last week, Corr's chances of a return this season hinge on his reaction to a new course of medication for a nasty toe infection. Meanwhile, Bonar and McDonald remain more than a month away.
North Melbourne is also expected to look for ways to include developing ruckman Tristan Xerri and first-round pick Will Phillips for this Saturday's clash with St Kilda, after both starred in a rare VFL victory over the weekend.
Xerri had 36 disposals, 27 hitouts, nine marks and six tackles (watch his highlights in the player below) as the Kangaroos overcame Essendon in the reserves on Saturday, while Phillips finished with 33 disposals and eight tackles.