Essendon midfielder Georgia Nanscawen is on the verge of making a long-awaited AFLW debut for the club after more than 12 months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
The former Hockeyroo was the first player signed to the Bombers' AFLW squad but missed their inaugural season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during last year's VFLW grand final.
A valuable leader for Essendon's young playing group behind the scenes, Olympian Nanscawen had her return to action ticked off by surgeons and has made positive strides in practice matches this month.
Bombers coach Natalie Wood declared Nanscawen's preparation "fantastic" but stopped short of guaranteeing the 31-year-old a spot in the team to face Hawthorn in their season-opener on Saturday night.
"It's been no surprise that she's attacked her rehab so diligently, and her form in the practice matches has been as expected," Wood said of the player who featured for North Melbourne in their 2019 AFLW campaign.
"She was pretty nervous getting back out there. She's really going to add to our midfield depth and our ability to put more pressure on the ball.
"We're really looking forward to what she brings."
Pressed on whether Nanscawen will play against the Hawks in round one, Wood opted for a straight bat.
"We've got training this week and match selection hasn't occurred yet," she said.
Essendon were the best-performing of last season's four expansion sides, finishing 10th with a 4-6 record, and have high hopes for the new campaign.
But Wood is first focused on building consistency in her side's performances.
"We had patches in games (last year) where we really got on the same page and rallied around and were really strong in the contest, but then equally we could drop off," Wood said.
"Being in our second year, we really want to build on what we've started and a big part of that is building who we are.
"It's an important year to really start to establish the culture."