IT'S been a long road, but Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong key forward George Alexander is confident his ankle issue is behind him after making a promising return in their last trial against North Albury.
Alexander kicked four goals in the comfortable win, his first match since he had surgery on a badly broken ankle midway through last season.
After playing on with the injury for a few matches, Alexander eventually called it quits but was a chance to play in last year's finals series had it not been cancelled.
Although he busted a rib in the trial, Alexander is confident he will be ready for the round one clash against Wagga Tigers.
The Lions are keen for him to rediscover his best given full forward Riley Corbett has made the move to SANFL club West Adelaide.
"It was good to get out there, it's been a while. I was rusty to start but towards the end I started to get the hang of it," he said.
"If we got back to playing last year, I reckon I'd almost have got back to playing then. I've been right for a while, it wasn't in the back of my mind at all really.
"I busted one and a bit of bone bruising but it's not too bad, I'll be right to go in round one."
Alexander is normally a lead-up forward but will play out of the goal square, at least in the early rounds, while he builds up his fitness.
He is confident they can atone for the loss of Corbett. Ruckmen Daniel Foley and Jacob Olsson were dangerous up forward last year, while the likes of Kai Watts and Tom Anderson are also goalkicking options.
"I've had to change my role a little bit and stay at home a bit more," Alexander said.
"But we've got blokes like Foles and Jethro Peck is back this year as well, so I feel like they can roll through centre half forward.
"I need to reduce my workload a bit to start off with at least. It has been an interrupted pre season for me and I'm still not very fit.
"I wouldn't say it (playing out of goal square) is foreign. It is different to what I'm used to, but I usually go down there for a rest at the end of quarters anyway.
"Wrestling with blokes a little bit is one of my strengths."
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