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Ashcroft has high expectations ahead of Lions return

Will Ashcroft hasn’t tempered his expectations as an AFL return nears.

The 20-year-old is available for selection in Brisbane’s Friday night Gabba clash with Melbourne, 11 months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his debut season.

And the diligent midfielder has declared he’ll be “a lot better” than he was in his eye-catching rookie year.

“This year I want to try and break the game open more, run and take the game on a bit,” Ashcroft told AFL.com.au.

“I did a bit of that last year but I want to really add to that and combine that inside-outside craft as best I can.”

The son of former Brisbane star Marcus managed 18 games in his debut season before the injury, combining well in a stacked midfield boasting Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale, Josh Dunkley and Hugh McCluggage.

He averaged 22 disposals and kicked eight goals, including the AFL Goal of the Year.

Ashcroft dealt with occasional swelling in the knee as he ramped up his rehabilitation efforts, admitting it “may or may nor have affected” his progress.

“Most guys in rehab have ups and downs and you just have to ride the wave and be patient with it, and that’s another thing I’ve learned,” he said.

Ashcroft has been involved in full training for the past month and, despite the likes of former Lions captain Tom Rockliff recommending a return via the second-tier VFL, says he’s ready for an immediate AFL comeback.

“It’s got me really ready and I expect high standards of myself,” he said ahead of Thursday’s team selection.

“I want to come in and make a huge impact, be a lot better than I was last year, for sure.

“I have great expectations on myself.

“It’s a team game and I’ll fit in how the coaches see fit. But I’m coming in to compete, I’m hungry.”

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