A KEY defensive trio is making considerable in-roads at Ikon Park.

After their 2019 campaigns were affected by injury, Sam Docherty, Caleb Marchbank and Tom Williamson will all be out to make up for lost time in 2020.

With knee, neck and back injuries curtailing them respectively, Director of High Performance Andrew Russell said the outlook was optimistic for each of them.

Marchbank played one of the best games of his career in Round 15 last season, before sustaining a fractured neck the following week.

Without the brace and back running, Russell said Marchbank had made significant progress in recent weeks.

“The fracture in his cervical spine has healed really well. He has now gotten rid of the neck brace, which is a fantastic result for him,” Russell said.

“If you’ve been at training lately, you would’ve seen that he’s back out there running.

“We’re going to get him in really good shape before Christmas, and then we’ll see him back doing ball work in January. We’ll prepare him to play in the pre-season games.”

Fellow young defender Tom Williamson played two games in 2019, before back issues once again ruling the promising youngster out of action.

Designed to maximise his speed and power, Russell said the program Williamson was undertaking had yielded positive results so far.

“We didn’t just want to get him back out there in pretty average physical condition, we wanted to get him back out there in really good condition,” he said.

“We’ve done a long and extended strengthening program through his spine, through his glutes and lower limbs so he can control his speed and power — he’s a really powerful mover.

“He’s back out there training doing two skills sessions a week. We’re really excited by where he’s at right now.”

Russell was also full of praise for co-captain Sam Docherty.

The Director of High Performance said the 26-year-old was in “excellent physical condition”.

“‘Doc’ has come back and is training: he’s probably doing about 80 per cent of our training drills,” he said.

“He has dropped a bit of weight and has been unbelievably professional in his rehab. He is feeling great about his footy.

“We’re excited about where his footy is going to go and the preparation he’s going to have leading into next year.”