NORTH Melbourne midfielder Jy Simpkin is set to return for this Saturday's Sir Doug Nicholls Round clash against Melbourne after being a late withdrawal on the weekend.
The Syd Barker medallist was pulled out of the game against Port Adelaide in Hobart due to hamstring tightness after spending a couple of days in bed with a virus earlier in the week.
Simpkin said the medical team decided to err on the side of caution with the 24-year-old, following an interrupted week plus the travel component.
"I'll be back this week. Throughout the week I was quite crook and spent a couple of days in bed. Then I got down to Tasmania and captain's run and it just tightened up for a couple of days," Simpkin said at the MCG on Monday.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play. The medical staff made a decision that it would be too much of a risk. I had some sort of virus, the flu going around is not great at the moment. I feel like everyone has got it. I'll be good to go this week."
North Melbourne fell to 1-8 with a percentage of just 53.7 after Port Adelaide brushed them aside by 69 points – the Kangaroos' fifth loss by more than 50 points this season – at Blundstone Arena on Saturday.
Despite the dark cloud hovering above Arden Street, Simpkin said there were still reasons for suffering North supporters to remain optimistic.
"Through the media and what not it doesn't look great, but inside the four walls we are really positive. We aren't going great in the win-loss columns, but we have our measures and KPIs we're trying to hit week in, week out," he said.
"A lot of young guys are getting some games into them at the moment. It's really positive inside the four walls."
NAB AFL Rising Star contender Jason Horne-Francis missed the trip to Tasmania on the weekend due to hamstring tightness but is a chance to face the Demons at Marvel Stadium.
Simpkin is confident No.1 pick Horne-Francis will recommit to North Melbourne beyond the length of his initial two-year deal, despite it emerging last week that the South Australian had parked contract discussions until the end of the season.
"I'm not real worried. He comes in with a smile on his face and everyone loves him. I have no reason to suspect why he wouldn't stay with us," he said.
"He is a great kid; we all love him at the club. He is just one of those young fellas that gets everyone up and about. We all love Jase. His footy speaks for itself; he is a tough, competitive person and he loves the contest."