MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 24: Alex Rance of the Tigers walks down the race during the 2018 AFL round five match between the Melbourne Demons and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 24, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Richmond defender Dylan Grimes believes injured teammate Alex Rance could yet return from an ACL injury this season.

Rance sustained the injury in round one against the Blues, and Grimes has been encouraged by the five-time All Australian’s rehab progress.

“In terms of his actual physical process, he’s coming on in leaps and bounds,” Grimes told AFL.com.au.

“He hasn’t put a line through himself at all to play [again] this year. He’s banging on the door for sure. His first three weeks, he’s shown more improvement than we’ve seen in some ACLs in three months.”

Grimes raised Rance’s attitude both immediately after the injury and in the weeks to follow.

“Even on the night of the injury, he was down on the bench, encouraging other players. Post-game, he was in [the rooms] making sure we were doing our recovery and getting the most out of ourselves,” Grimes said.

“To be honest, the next day when we found out it was an ACL injury, he called me up to make sure I was okay. That’s the sort of leader we’re talking about.”

According to La Trobe University PhD student Dr Courtney Lai, AFL players usually return from an ACL injury in around 12 months, give or take. Rance has been out for just under two months.

However, the team decided against putting Rance on the long-term injury list ahead of the mid-season AFL draft, leaving the option open for a return later in the season.

The injury-plagued Tigers will face Fremantle this week a Optus Stadium as they look to regain position inside the top-eight.