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McCarthy rapt to be back

Lincoln McCarthy made his long-awaited return from injury through the VFL on the weekend.

It was McCarthy’s first competitive match since round three, 2017, with groin surgery and hip surgery sidelining him for the majority of last season.

The small forward played all four quarters in Sunday’s VFL clash with Collingwood and had an immediate impact.

McCarthy kicked three goals from 13 disposals, racked up five tackles and was an aerial threat all game.

The humble Cat was named in the best players but was just happy to be back playing in the hoops.

“I was rapt to be a part of it and just playing footy again,” McCarthy said.

“The day for me was just to try and get through and not worry too much about performance.”

McCarthy kicked the first goal of the match on Sunday which settled his nerves and got him into the action early.

“It was good to get one on the boot early and have it go through,” he said.

“That’s the sort of front and square goal that I really need to try and do more of, especially at AFL level so the more I can get now, the better I’ll be.”

Despite the strong performance, McCarthy believes he can play at a much higher level, with his fitness still below where he wants it to be.

“I definitely (felt) unfit and didn’t have a lot of efforts in me, especially after the legs got a bit fatigued,” McCarthy said.

“I really wanted to transition, and I knew I had to go but I didn’t have a lot in me.”

McCarthy spent the bulk of the match up forward, commanding a quality Collingwood defender whenever he was on the ground.

He brought added defensive pressure to the VFL Cats’ forward setup and was a strong marking target, but McCarthy believes he can give even more over the coming weeks.

“I still feel explosive but just repeat efforts is probably what I don’t have, that is match fitness for you and that will come over a few weeks,” he said.

“I’m sure that (fitness) will come, I’ve spent a year out of footy.”

Whilst Cats fans will be excited to see McCarthy back with the AFL side, the young forward is looking to build form at VFL level before he gets ahead of himself.

“I’d like to make sure I can get through some full games and form will work itself out,” McCarthy said.

“If I can start playing well over the next month then I can put my hand up.”

Over the preseason, McCarthy had intended to be ready for AFL round one but a quad injury following the Christmas break saw the start to his 2018 campaign delayed.

“I had a few niggles like I tore my quad just after Christmas and that lingered for a bit so haven’t been able to fully train much post-Christmas,” he said.

“But in the last six weeks I put together a good block of training and now I’m right to go.”

McCarthy’s return to football was made even sweeter with teammates Sam Simpson and Quinton Narkle also returning on Sunday.

The trio spent a lot of time in rehab together and McCarthy was just as happy to see them finally get their bodies right.

“We have got a nice little bond together us boys and I’m rapt that they got through,” McCarthy said.

“It made it more fun, we have all been working together in rehab and slogging it out on Saturday mornings doing extra training.”

The VFL Cats will face Essendon on Saturday at Windy Hill.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs