AFTER 917 days on the sidelines, Sam Docherty will finally make his return to competitive action when Carlton meets Fremantle in its Marsh Community Series opener on Saturday night.
The Blues have confirmed that Docherty will make the trip to Mandurah this weekend, having gotten through last Thursday's scratch match victory over the Magpies unscathed.
It will mark the Carlton defender's first official return to the playing field since he was named an All Australian in 2017, having suffered back-to-back ACL injuries that have kept him out of the game for successive seasons.
Docherty will act as the club's sole skipper for its trip to Western Australia, with fellow co-captain Patrick Cripps unavailable for the clash as he lines up for the All-Stars in Friday night's State of Origin bushfire relief match at Marvel Stadium.
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"It's exciting for him," Carlton assistant coach John Barker said on Wednesday.
"It's obviously his first hit-out against opposition in two years, but he's building really well and it's exciting for him not just from a football point-of-view but also from a personal point-of-view.
"When you're injured, the toll that can take and how lonely you can feel as an injured player at a football club … it's good that he'll get a bit of emotional nourishment from being able to play again and do what he loves."
Carlton defender Jacob Weitering is unlikely to face Fremantle, having trained away from the main group in wet conditions on Wednesday morning as he recovers from an adductor strain sustained in the early stages of Thursday's practice match against Collingwood.
However, new recruit Jack Martin and midfielder Zac Fisher are set to return, having missed last Thursday's unofficial hit-out due to soreness.
Veteran ruckman Matthew Kreuzer will also feature on limited minutes against the Dockers, despite undergoing a minor heart procedure last week, while young defender Sam Petrevski-Seton is touch-and-go to feature as he battles a quad complaint.