North Melbourne is torn over whether to pick courageous midfielder Ben Cunnington in the AFL or ease him back into football through the reserves.
The Kangaroos veteran has not played since round 19, 2021 after battling testicular cancer.
But Cunnington is set to finally be available to play this weekend in a major boost for the club.
Caretaker coach Leigh Adams is weighing up whether to bring Cunnington in for the AFL clash with the Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, or ease him back via the VFL against the same opponents at Arden St.
The 31-year-old was tracking well to return last month before tweaking his calf at training, and last week tested positive for COVID-19.
“He has to get through main skills, then we’ll have the discussion with the performance team whether we think it’s best for him to have a run around in the twos for a week or bring him straight back in,” Adams said on Wednesday .
“I’m pretty sure I know what his preference is and the coach’s preference, it will be just what’s best for his body going forward.
“At this time of year, it’s a great story for us and the motivation for the group and for the footy club.”
Adams admits the coaches face a tough decision but will be guided by the medical staff.
Cunnington was still one of the Kangaroos’ best midfielders before his cancer battle and he has been sorely missed by the club this season.
He has played 227 games for North since being taken with pick five in the 2009 draft.
“The last thing we’d want to do is he breaks down and he’s out for the rest of the year,” Adams said.
“It’s probably going to be the VFL, even though we’d love it to be straight back in.
“Deep down I know he’d love to play seniors, particularly being a game in Melbourne this weekend and we travel next weekend.
“To have his support network and his family that have been through so much with him at the game would be fantastic.”
North sits bottom of the ladder with a 2-17 record heading into the final three games of the season.
The Kangaroos will remember their 1996 premiership victory on Sunday with club greats gathering to celebrate the famous Grand Final win over Sydney.