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Former Carlton co-captain Sam Docherty could be on the brink of making a remarkable early season return from testicular cancer.
The 28-year-old, who stepped down from co-captaincy duties in January to focus on his recovery, is impressing Blues officials so much they are bullish on his chances of lining up as early as the pre-season AAMI Community Series which kicks off next week.
Docherty underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy last year after discovering a secondary reoccurrence of testicular cancer in August.
New Blues coach Michael Voss revealed to AFL.com.au that Docherty is firmly in the mix for an early season return.
"He's absolutely desperate to get out a full season. Some of the ground he's made in the last month has come really quick. We also have to be cautious with that. He'll tell us how he's travelling," Voss said.
"We'll put the load to him and see what he can cope with, but certainly in the last month we've become more bullish with where he's at. We're certainly hoping that he has a fairly large say on the front-end of the season."
Expectations are high at Carlton this season following the appointment of the former Brisbane premiership captain as their new head coach with many pundits believing 2022 should be the year the Blues finally break a nine-year finals drought.
A message from Natalie and Sam Docherty. :blue_heart:#DoingItForDoc pic.twitter.com/sDs0ogEpPe
- Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) October 10, 2021
Docherty crossed from Brisbane to Carlton ahead of the 2014 season, making an immediate impact across half-back and winning his first John Nicholls Medal as Carlton's best and fairest player just two years later in 2016 and his maiden All-Australian jumper in 2017.
The following two seasons were marred by injury though as Docherty would rupture his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the 2017 off-season before suffering the exact same injury almost a year later, causing him to miss two consecutive seasons.
Docherty would finally return to the Blues line-up during the 2020 season, playing all but one game.