Kangaroo Thomas 'in a better place' ahead of VFL return

North Melbourne co-captain Luke McDonald says troubled teammate Tarryn Thomas "seems in a better place" ahead of his return to football.

The 22-year-old stepped away from the Kangaroos last month after being charged with threatening to distribute an intimate image, but is set to play two quarters in a VFL practice match this weekend, a week out from North Melbourne's round-one AFL clash with West Coast.

"Tarryn's been through a lot the last few months, or couple of years, but the club has put a really strong program in place to help him," McDonald said.

"He's followed that to a tee and that's why he's going to be playing VFL this weekend."

While an opportunity to resume at AFL level may still be some way off, the promising midfielder has cleared the air with teammates as part of his recent return to the club.

"He's spoken to the group. There's not too much I can say but it was good to hear from him and it is good to have him around.

"As a teammate, you're there to support him and support all your teammates."

McDonald also revealed new coach Alastair Clarkson spoke to the playing group about his confrontation with a female journalist over her reporting on Thomas.

Clarkson said in a statement he had "great regret" about the incident.

"He addressed that, but I love how loyal he is as a coach," McDonald said.

"Other than your teammates, the one you want to have your back the most is the coach - and there's no doubt about that with Clarko."

The first few months of Clarkson's tenure at Arden Street have been rocky, with an AFL investigation into allegations of racism during his time at Hawthorn yet to be resolved, but McDonald could not be happier with his new coach.

"It's been awesome. Clarko's footy knowledge speaks for itself so I just feel really lucky to have him.

"I've been at the club for 10 years and it's probably the most excited I've been about a group coming through.

"With Clarko, you know the competitive nature of him. He's here to win silverware so I'm really excited about the journey ahead."

McDonald is hopeful the club can rise up the ladder following consecutive wooden spoon seasons, tipping a handful of young Roos to make big strides in 2023.

"Will Phillips and Tom Powell have both worked really hard, and have both come back in really good condition ... they're two guys that will take another step this year."

Number three draft pick Harry Sheezel also looks set to play an exciting role in his first AFL season.

"When you come in as a high draft pick there's always a bit of chatter but he's absolutely lived up to it.

"Some of the things he's done in training and in the practice matches ... his goal nous is something you can't teach."