Fremantle midfielder Anthony Morabito is confident he can have an impact at AFL level this season as he prepares to play his first game in 18 months.

Morabito, who underwent a knee reconstruction in December 2010 and has suffered four setbacks in his rehabilitation, will make his return to football with the Peel Thunder reserves on Saturday.

The No.4 pick from the 2009 NAB AFL Draft said he was excited as he nears the end of a long rehabilitation, and he expected to spend a number of weeks in the WAFL finding his feet.

However, the powerful wingman was confident he could he could recapture the form that saw him play 23 games in his debut season of 2010, with his speed and agility returning.

“I’d like to think that I’ve run very good volumes, so when I get a fair bit of confidence and change of direction and all that, I’d like to think at the back end of the year I’d be able to have a fair impact,” Morabito said on Tuesday.

“I’m just going to keep putting my hand up and giving good effort at [WAFL] level and hopefully that’s what gets me picked.

“At this stage [my expectation] is purely to get a game.”

Morabito described the setbacks he suffered in his rehabilitation as minor hiccups, with Fremantle reluctant to take any risks with one of its prized midfield assets.

The 20-year-old strained a quadricep muscle one month ago, pushing his return back further, but he said he was finally ready to test his left knee in a match.

“I’ve got through a lot of fairly intense training sessions, so I’m pretty confident,” he said.

“It’s more so the night before and preparing for the game and the excitement and adrenalin you get.

“That’s something that’s irreplaceable and it’s going to be foreign to me at the start, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Morabito, who expects to play on a wing and across half-back for Peel on Saturday, said he had dropped from 95kg to 92kg during his rehabilitation and improved his running results this pre-season.

He said he was looking forward to playing alongside a number of his junior teammates from Peel Thunder at Brownes Stadium, and putting a tough period of his career behind him.

“At the end of the day, when you get to this stage of your preparation and you look back on however long it’s been – for me 16 months [since the operation] – it’s all worth it,” he said.

“It seems like a short 16 months now that I think about it.”

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