K rock Football

Conca on track for return

Reece Conca is stretchered from the field during Richmond’s win over Sydney on July 28. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

RICHMOND midfielder Reece Conca is firming to return before the end of the AFL season as the Tigers prepare for Friday night’s clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.

Conca dislocated his ankle during the Tigers’ round 15 win over Sydney but did not require surgery and resumed running this week.

The 25-year-old had played every game this season for the reigning premiers before suffering the injury which initially appeared to be season-ending.

“He’s starting to progress, which is great,” Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said on Thursday.

“We’re very confident he’ll certainly play some football. Exactly when it is we’re not too sure but we think it will be before the finals.”

Young onballer Jack Graham (shoulder) remains several weeks away from returning and the Tigers have missed the hard edge he and Conca brought to the midfield.

The Tigers’ two-point defeat to GWS at Spotless Stadium last week was their fourth interstate defeat from as many games this season.

Hardwick is unconcerned by the ladder-leading Tigers’ away record and doesn’t believe rival teams have got them figured out.

“The way we play, we hunt,” he said.

“Defensively we’re very good, we try and manufacture the turnover and then try and score from turnovers. We get to decide how we play and then control that so that’s all we worry about.

“What the opposition bring is irrelevant to us.”

The 15th-placed Saints have found some much-needed form over the past month, winning three of their past four games.

Goal-kicking proved to be the major worry for the Tigers during their loss to GWS – they kicked 10.17, led by Jason Castagna 0.5.

Hardwick expects Castagna to bounce back but said rookie forward Tyson Stengle was in the mix for a senior recall after booting six goals in the VFL, along with midfielder Sam Lloyd.