Return of Lions’ Will Ashcroft could ignite top-four hopes

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Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has shut down suggestions Will Ashcroft will ease back into the AFL, declaring “if we thought he had to be managed, we would’ve brought him back in the reserves”.

The 20-year-old was one of the game’s breakout players in his 2023 debut, before suffering a ruptured ACL in round 18 against Geelong.

But 11 months on from that night at the Gabba, the son of three-time premiership-winner Marcus Ashcroft will seek to remind pundits of his class when he lines up against the Melbourne Demons on Friday night.

Brisbane Lions star Will Ashcroft’s return has been confirmed.

Brisbane Lions star Will Ashcroft’s return has been confirmed.Credit: Getty

“We’ve got a history of playing blokes straight off the back of their surgeries, like Cam Rayner and Eric Hipwood, and we can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t do the same with Will,” Fagan said.

“He has to start somewhere, and we think a player of his talent deserves a start in the AFL team.

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“He wanted to break the world record for coming back from an ACL, but once he realised nature was going to take its course with that … he pretty much calmed down.

“[There will be] no management – if you’re playing AFL you’re in and have to do whatever you have to do.”

The Lions have won five of their past seven games to surge back into finals reckoning.

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