GOLDEN Square will again edge closer to getting its best side out on the park when Rick Ladson plays his first game of the Bendigo Football League season on Saturday.
Ladson - who coached the Bulldogs to last year’s premiership - has been sidelined all season so far following knee surgery.
But the former 125-game AFL premiership player with Hawthorn is ready to make his return against South Bendigo at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
“To be honest, he was weighing up whether he was going to play again this year, but we’ve always kept the door open for him to get himself fit and going again,” Golden Square coach Nick Carter said on Friday.
“Clearly, a Rick Ladson even at 75 per cent fit is a great asset for us in our side, particularly when we’re developing so many young players.
“We’ll play him part of the game on Saturday and continue to monitor that over the coming weeks.
“He was probably only playing at 20 per cent last year, but if he can get up to that 60 to 70 per cent mark, we’ll get really good footy out of him. It’s exciting to have him back in the side.”
Ladson - who last month coached the Bendigo inter-league win over Gippsland - has been named to start on the bench, with Carter hinting at a variety of roles for the 30-year-old.
“Initially, we’ll just see how he goes and probably play him behind the ball across half-back, but we’ll also use him forward as well,” Carter said.
“We haven’t got our forward line right yet and he can add some real value there.”
The Bulldogs are 5-5 and in fourth position on the ladder.
They take on a South Bendigo side that continues to battle at the bottom of the ladder.
However, when the two sides met in round two, the Bulldogs only snuck past the Bloods by one point in a MyJet Oval thriller.