Returning Hogan fills Longmuir with pride

Justin Chadwick
Fremantle star Jesse Hogan is closing in on a long-awaited return to the AFL against Port Adelaide

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has expressed his pride and admiration for Jesse Hogan ahead of the star forward's long-awaited AFL return.

Barring a setback in the next two days, Hogan will line up in Sunday's clash with Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium.

Hogan hasn't been seen at AFL level since fracturing the navicular bone in his right foot in round 14 last year.

The former Demon also took a lengthy mental health break earlier this year, prompting fears he may not play at all in 2020.

Longmuir says Hogan's actions on the training track since returning to the club has spoken volumes about his dedication to the cause.

"When he came back to the club, our leaders wanted to judge him on his actions, not his words," Longmuir said.

"From everything I've seen so far, his actions have been outstanding, and he deserves his opportunity if he gets it. The players will be really proud of him, as I am."

Longmuir faces a delicate balancing act on the selection front this week as he weighs up a host of underdone players.

The first-year coach has already revealed that Hogan is all-but locked in barring any unexpected hiccups, but Stephen Hill (quad), Nathan Wilson (back spasm) and Sam Sturt (back) will have to convince Longmuir that they are ready.

"What we're trying to balance up with our selection is to make sure we don't overdo it with players that haven't played a lot of footy," Longmuir said.

"We're early into the season, players are still trying to get their match fitness up to a certain level.

"So we just need to make sure we don't put too much strain on all our players by playing guys who haven't played for a long time."

With Sean Darcy set to miss at least two weeks with a knee injury, Rory Lobb will lead the ruck division.

Hogan, meanwhile, managed just 13 goals from 12 games in his debut season at the Dockers last year.

The 25-year-old was far more prolific at the Demons, and Longmuir is confident about what Hogan can produce this year.

"His IQ is really good when it comes to footy IQ," Longmuir said.

"He's one of our smartest players and his ability to see it unfold on the ground, direct others to run to certain spots is something that we missed.

"First and foremost he needs to get his own role sorted out, but then if he can start bringing that (other) stuff to our forward line, it's going to be invaluable."