ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: (L-R) Wayne Milera of the Crows competes for the ball with Jesse Lonergan of the Suns during the round six AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and Gold Coast Suns at Adelaide Oval on April 28, 2018 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Adelaide defender Wayne Milera will be eased back into the Crows' system as he eyes his first game in the AFL since Round 2, 2020.

The 24-year-old was on the mend 12 months ago from a foot injury before suffering a patella tendon rupture that ended his 2021 campaign before it started.

The string of setbacks came after Milera and the Crows agreed to a new five-year contract extension, with the club having shown great faith in the Central Districts product.

Adelaide are now gaining great excitement in the prospect of Milera's long-awaited return, with players having returned to pre-season training on Monday ahead of the new season.

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Speaking on the approach the Crows will take with Milera in his comeback, Adelaide football boss Adam Kelly told media that the club will remain cautious in nurturing the pacey defender back into the game.

“It’s been great to have him back within the main group… as you’d imagine with effectively two years away from the game he’s had some significant challenges,” Kelly said on Monday.

“Wayne’s a much-loved, respected member of our group and obviously highly talented.

“We’re just so pleased that he’s out there with the playing group at the moment and going well, it puts a smile on our faces to see him out there.

“We’ll start cautiously because he’s had such a long way away from football.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 2: Wayne Milera of the Crows celebrates his first goal during the 2016 AFL Round 02 match between the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power at the Adelaide Oval, Adelaide on April 2, 2016. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Media/Getty Images)

“But we cross our fingers every day that he gets through another session and gets one step closer to making his way back onto the field."

Should Milera surpass critical benchmarks in the coming weeks, the Crows defender could line up for his side against West Coast next month as part of Adelaide's practice match schedule.

The Crows are also fixtured to face Port Adelaide on Saturday, March 5 for the AAMI Community Series.

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