GREATER Western Sydney captain Stephen Coniglio faces an uphill battle to play again this season as complications with a rebuilt toe have ruled him out again this week.
Coniglio required surgery earlier this year to repair his ankle and reconstruct the big toe on the same foot after both were injured in a tackle in round three.
He returned to play two VFL matches earlier this month then led the team against Sydney in round 18, but was a late withdrawal last week after experiencing soreness in the same toe.
The Giants have not ruled out Coniglio returning at some stage this season but with only four home and away matches remaining and the toe needing to be rested, the 27-year-old is running out of time.
"Stephen just didn't get over that toe soreness. He just had a minor session then it started to get a little bit sore," coach Leon Cameron said on Thursday.
"We gave him the two [VFL] games and then the third game it got stood on as well which didn't help. It's just an angry toe at the moment.
"One thing we will not be doing is rushing him if he's not right, that's not fair because it's a significant part of your body when you've got to run hard and run 15-16 kilometres a game. We have to make sure it's right for him to perform at his best."
The Giants will be boosted by the return of Toby Greene, who has completed a period of isolation since his exposure to a Tier 2 site in Melbourne. Matt de Boer, Kieren Briggs, Jake Stein were also in isolation and the four players were able to join up with their teammates on Wednesday.
After starting their isolation period in the Gold Coast hotel that is hosting the rest of the club, Greene arranged for the isolating players to move to a house that had more space for them to live and train in.
Greene is set to stand in as skipper in Coniglio’s absence for the clash with Port Adelaide which will be played at Metricon Stadium on Sunday, which will be the 12th time he has led the team this season.
"They were extremely lucky to have some great training facilities inside the house that they were staying in, in terms of running machines, bikes and weights," Cameron said.
"They're very enthusiastic about playing this weekend. All of those guys trained particularly well today.
"We know that whatever situation Toby is in, whether you're sitting at the bottom of the ladder, top of the ladder or mid-tier, every time he crosses the white line he gives everything he’s got and we're a better team for that.
"He'll be a bit rusty at times because of the two weeks that he's had out but it won't be through lack of effort or application, he'll be giving everything he's got."
Phil Davis is available to take on the Power despite receiving a nasty knock to his back just before half-time last week against Essendon then having it assessed at hospital after the match.
Veteran Shane Mumford has also pulled up well and appears set to line up in a second consecutive match, with Briggs a chance to also play and offer ruck relief.
Lachie Ash impressed in an unfamiliar tagging role on Darcy Parish last week, limiting the in-form midfielder to only 15 disposals, and could be called on to do a similar job on the Power’s Ollie Wines.
"We were really proud of Lachie because he came to us as a half-back flanker. But he's got such a big motor and great speed, repeat speed. He's a powerful player," Cameron said.
"What we saw on the weekend we really liked. But we also like the certain freedom he plays with as well and having him come off the half-back flank and the wing gives us an added advantage.
"We're tossing up whether we play him on the inside or on the outside."