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Jy Simpkin forced into 'frustrating' start to season, Crow and Blue on-track for returns

Jarred Cross -

North Melbourne skipper Jy Simpkin will spend the opening third of the season in a protective glove after injuring his left hand in the Roos' impressive practice match against Collingwood last week.

Simpkin came to the sidelines during the 102-68 win over the reigning premiers after jarring his finger in a contest.

He later returned to the field, with subsequent scans confirming a torn tendon in his finger.

Simpkin sat out of his side's round six loss to Gold Coast after breaking his opposite hand against Brisbane during Gather Round the week earlier.

He returned to the side forced to don a glove, with the same measures now in place to begin 2024.

Despite the frustrations, he assured fans he'll be there for round one v GWS on March 16.

"It'll be a glove for eight weeks, unfortunately. I wore a glove last year when I broke my hand and I hated it, so I'm just going to have to put up with that for the first few games of the season. But no worries for round one," he told afl.com.au on Monday.

Simpkin averaged 20 touches across the 2023 season after overtaking Jack Ziebell as North co-captain alongside defender Luke McDonald.

In January, the 25-year-old side the club was "sick" of their extended stretch towards the bottom of the ladder.

"Everyone on the list now is sick of being where we are. We've been down in the bottom few for three, four, five years. Everyone's sick of it," he said.

"I can't really put a number on where we'll get to but we're going to improve."

In other injury news, Adelaide mid Wayne Milera is expected to return shortly from a hamstring niggle, while Carlton, following a breakthrough campaign last season, are expecting big things from rebounding back Zac Williams after 12 months on the sidelines with an ACL.

The Crows will test Milera for a return after interruptions with a hammy. (Image: Facebook)

"The way he's been training, I reckon he will (be back in the side for round one)," Blues skipper Patrick Cripps said at the AFL's captain's day on Monday.

"He's going to make us a much better site in terms of that sort of power and creativity off our backline.

Williams missed the entire 2023 season with an ACL injury picked up in the preseason. (Image: AAP)

"He exited rehab the other day, so we got around him in the meeting. He's done a power of work and he had a really big year last year, so it's great to see him smiling."

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