Andrew Swallow lining up with Roosters

NORTH Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow will make his highly anticipated return from a long-term Achilles tendon injury with North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL at Geelong on Sunday.

Roosters head coach Gerard FitzGerald confirmed yesterday that Swallow would play about 60 minutes of the encounter with Geelong at Simonds Stadium.

“Games go for an average 112 minutes.

“We’re more than comfortable being able to manage his game time,” he said.

FitzGerald said the VFL’s 23rd player rule made it easier to manage these types of situations, with the “extra” man available.

He said other than the time restriction, there were no other special plans to ease him back.

This will be Swallow’s first competitive game since he ruptured an Achilles tendon in round 18 of the AFL season last year.

FitzGerald said the Roosters had been preparing to play a part in Swallow’s comeback for more than a week.

“We’ve been looking forward to it.”

He said there had been a chance the classy midfielder would line up for North Ballarat against Sandringham last Saturday.

FitzGerald said allowing Swallow to make his return through the VFL was a vote of confidence by the Kangaroos in the competition.

“It’s a reminder of the quality of the VFL.”

FitzGerald is not new to coaching Swallow.

Swallow has played 26 games with the Roosters.

His first was in 2006 when Collingwood premiership player Gavin Crosisca coached North Ballarat.

He played a handful of games in 2007 under FitzGerald’s guidance before spending most of 2008, when his AFL career was at the crossroads, with the Roosters.

Swallow was a pivotal part of North Ballarat’s first VFL premiership campaign in 2008, playing in the grand final.

“He’ll always have a special place in North Ballarat history,” FitzGerald said. “We’ll be taking special care of him.”

Swallow has not played with the Selkirk Roosters since that grand final.

North Ballarat is still searching for its first win of the season after three losses.

Geelong is inside the top eight in seventh with two victories.

david.brehaut@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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