INFLUENTIAL Port Adelaide young gun Zak Butters will make his comeback against Melbourne in Thursday night's crucial clash.

Butters has been sidelined since round four because of an ankle injury but returned to action in the SANFL last weekend.

Port coach Ken Hinkley says the 20-year-old playmaker will play in an Adelaide Oval encounter carrying significant top-four ramifications.

Melbourne, with 12 wins and three losses, slipped to second when upset by GWS last weekend and is just one win ahead of the fourth-placed Power (11 wins, four losses).

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Three of the Power's four defeats have come against top-four fancies, the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane and Geelong.

Hinkley said a win over the Demons would be important for the belief of his players that they can overcome the league's elite.

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Butters blow, subbed off after this ankle injury

Port young gun Zak Butters has been forced out of the game after hurting his ankle in this incident

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"You do want to gain some confidence out of that, there's no doubt about that," Hinkley told reporters on Wednesday.

"But the reality is win or lose, you have got to keep going and keep turning up.

"I don't think any team in the top four or five or six at the moment is hanging their hat on one game, one result.

"It's still for us a challenge week-in, week-out, trying to get enough results in our favour.

"It's a great opportunity against one of the best teams in the competition and it's an opportunity to get further education of where we're at and what we're doing."

The creative Butters replaces Kane Farrell (knee) while defender Tom Clurey returns from a broken jaw suffered in round nine, with fellow backman Riley Bonner dropped.

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Distraught Power mid subbed off with worrying knee injury

Kane Farrell of Port Adelaide subbed out after injuring his knee

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But Hinkley cautioned against expecting too much from Butters after undergoing ankle surgery similar to Geelong's Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield, who missed seven games before returning three weeks ago.

"He (Butters) is really important to us but we have seen people come off these injuries, I will use Paddy Dangerfield as an example," Hinkley said.

"Paddy has been back three weeks but last week he was back at his best from what I have seen.

"And the expectation on Zak is he will be good for us back in the team, but he will certainly get better as each week goes."

Meanwhile, star recruit Orazio Fantasia might not be fit to return until the final rounds of the season.

The former Essendon goalsneak's debut season at Port was halted by knee surgery during the club's mid-season bye in early June.

But the surgery has failed to fix Fantasia's problems.

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"It's a frustrating one for us, as it is for him," Hinkley said.

"He has seen the surgeons again this week to make sure that we're on track with what it is. It's now push ahead and see where it goes.

"We think it's still probably two or three weeks (from a return) but it might not be that, it might be longer.

"It (his knee) hasn't quite responded the way we have liked. It's a week-to-week proposition a bit.

"The surgery we were hopeful would fix it mainly, but there's still some problems."

Orazio Fantasia celebrates a goal against St Kilda in round six, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Fantasia made an instant impact for the finals-bound Power, booting 19 goals in his initial 10 games before being sent for surgery.

But his latest woes continue a concerning trend - last season at Essendon he managed only five games when beset by soft-tissue injuries.

The 25-year-old was also hampered by frequent injuries in 2019 when he played 15 games for the Bombers and in 2018 when playing only 13 matches.