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Star Power forward ‘could be there in round one’

PORT Adelaide remains hopeful key forward Charlie Dixon could play in round one despite a long layoff after last year’s fractured leg.

The powerful goalkicker went down with a broken leg and syndesmosis injury in his ankle in round 21 against West Coast last year.

The former Gold Coast forward underwent surgery and has had an interrupted pre-season, but Power coach Ken Hinkley shot down suggestions Dixon could be missing for a large chunk of the start of the season.

“He went to the surgeon last Thursday in Sydney and his opinion was he should be available to play in round one if things progress the way they are. Who knows when you get a broken leg and a syndesmosis injury in the same incident. It takes some time,” Hinkley told AFL.com.au.

“If he’s available in round one that would be great, if he’s available round two or three that would be equally as good. But whenever he’s available we know he’s an important player for us.”

Dixon enjoyed a career-best season in 2017, booting 49 goals from 23 games in his second year at the Power.

Last year he kicked 26 goals from 20 games but struggled with knee tendinitis during the year and also had to play in the ruck at stages during Paddy Ryder’s absence with injury.

Hinkley said the 28-year-old had been buoyed by the update from the surgeon last week.

“His rehab is coming along as well as it could be expected at this stage,” he said.

“He was up and about [after] that (the surgeon meeting), but I’ll say it again, it’s a significant injury and there could be setbacks. There could be hold-ups. But it might go smoothly and he could be there in round one. We don’t know yet.”

Power star Robbie Gray this week withdrew from next week’s realestate.com.au AFLX tournament due to knee soreness, but Hinkley said Gray’s injury history – he suffered a horrific knee injury in 2012 – meant the club was cautious.

“Rob had a cleanout in his knee after last season and we’re just managing him. We always manage him really carefully, he had a significant knee injury six or seven years ago. It was a horrible one. So we’re very mindful of that,” he said.

“Robbie’s been running really well, straight line and once he starts to do a little bit of change of direction stuff that’s when he can get a little bit sorer. So we manage that really well.”

Gray is due to play his 200th game for the Power in round one when they take on Melbourne at the MCG, and Hinkley said that was the priority.

“He’s not a big trainer. I sometimes don’t know if that’s by choice or not, but he’s such a dynamic player that his change of direction is critical to his game and we’re very, very careful with that,” Hinkley said.

Meanwhile, young Port midfielder Joe Atley has had a minor arthroscopy on his left knee and will miss the JLT Community Series.

He is expected to be out of action for four-to-six weeks.

Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS