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Hawthorn forward Chad Wingard makes strong return from Achilles injury

Jackson Clark -

Hawthorn star Chad Wingard has taken another step forward with his remarkable recovery from an Achilles injury after a successful return in the VFL on Sunday.

Wingard played the opening half of Box Hill Hawks' clash against Sydney, providing a handful of classy involvements.

He finished with eight disposals and two goals – including an excellent long bomb from outside-50 during the second term – as the Hawks won by 27 points.

The 30-year-old has shown tremendous progress and professionalism to be back on the field just eight months after rupturing his Achilles tendon.

Wingard suffered the injury just minutes into the Hawks' Round 22 clash with the Western Bulldogs at Launceston's York Park last season.

It was an innocuous injury that occurred when the dual All-Australian tried to change direction while chasing a player before his left leg collapsed beneath him.

The midfielder-forward is ahead of schedule after returning to training with the club's main group earlier in the year.

Hawks forward Chad Wingard faced an uncertain future after the 2023 season. (Image: AFL)

Originally, it was expected that the former Port Adelaide player could miss up to 12 months of football, and he faced an uncertain future at the elite level.

While it is presumed that he will spend the next few weeks building up minutes in the VFL, Wingard is likely to return to senior level before his team's mid-season bye.

The two-time Power leading goalkicker has struggled with a string of injuries since joining the Hawks in 2019, playing under 18 matches in each of his five seasons with the club.

During the off-season he met with Collingwood regarding a potential role at the reigning premiers, however instead signed a one-year contract extension late last year to remain at the Hawks.

At the time, Hawthorn's National List and Recruiting Manager Mark McKenzie said he was excited that Wingard would be staying at the club for at least another season.

"Not only is Chad exciting to watch, but he's also a great teammate and a very important player for us in our forward half," McKenzie said.

"While Chad is still playing at a high level on-field, his mentorship for our younger players has been equally valuable.

"A one-year contract extension is a great result for both Chad and the club, and we look forward to seeing him back out on the park, playing the footy we know he is capable of."

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