The worst is over for the injury-hit Brisbane Lions as coach Justin Leppitsch prepares to roll out his returning big guns over the coming weeks.
Fresh from the bye last weekend, the Lions could welcome back Jack Redden (back), Jed Adcock (calf), Ryan Harwood (concussion), Darcy Gardiner (calf) and Daniel McStay (finger) from injury for Saturday night's clash with the Western Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, injured skipper Tom Rockliff (ribs) could be back in the next fortnight, Daniel Merrett (hamstring nerve) is on the brink of his first senior appearance of the year and former Geelong premiership ruckman Trent West (knee) will make his comeback through the reserves.
Provided the injury gods are kind to the Lions through the second half of the season it means Leppitsch will soon be able to field the kind of team he's long wanted to, but hasn't been able to.
"It makes match committee (meetings) longer, that's for sure, when you've got some players available," Leppitsch said on Thursday.
"Instead of just asking which player you want to give an opportunity to it's more the other way - which one do you want to take opportunity away from.
"That makes it difficult because you're going to have to make some hard calls and take some players in and out of the team.
"That's the game, we want these problems and we want more of them.
"We haven't had enough of them in my 18 months."
Leppitsch said some of his returning players will have to build match fitness in the NEAFL first before they earn recalls to the top grade.
Rockliff, who is recovering from broken ribs for the second time this year, should be back within the next fortnight but the Lions are taking a cautious approach with their captain.
"Like last time, he's pushing himself forward and forward every week so we have to hold him back and make sure he's right," Leppitsch said.
Merrett had been sidelined indefinitely with nerve complications stemming from a hamstring strain, with the nature of his injury puzzling club doctors.
Leppitsch said the key defender would play "some form of football" next week.
"I was watching him last night and wanted to pick him, actually," he said.
"But the medicos have made me not make that decision."