Port temper AFL expectations around Dixon

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says key forward Charlie Dixon will need time to regain form as he returns for his first AFL game of the season.

Power coach KEN HINKLEY.
Power coach KEN HINKLEY. Picture: Jono Searle/via Getty Images

Port Adelaide are tempering expectations around Charlie Dixon as the tall forward makes his much-anticipated AFL return against Essendon.

Dixon will play his first game this season on Sunday at Adelaide Oval after recovering from ankle problems.

Mitch Georgiades' goalkicking inaccuracy meant he made way, ensuring Port will go into the match boasting Dixon, Jeremy Finlayson and Todd Marshall as their tall forward combination for the first time.

"Charlie is a pretty imposing figure to get back in your team, but he's coming back (from) a very long time out," said coach Ken Hinkley.

"We shouldn't have too many expectations.

"We know that Charlie, today, will be a far better Charlie in two or three weeks' time.

"But we had to get him in the team - we need to get him in the team and playing because we have a bye next week and getting a game into him is really important."

Hinkley added Georgiades had been playing "pretty reasonable football" with plenty of shots on goal, but needed to convert his chances better.

"That's probably where we landed - flexibility versus opportunity," Hinkley said of selection.

Port's encouraging recovery from their 0-5 start to the season hit a speed bump last week when Geelong comfortably won contested possessions by 30 at GMHBA Stadium and beat the Power by 35 points.

Now they come up against Essendon, who upped their contest work in last week's loss to Richmond.

"It's a fluctuating form for us, to be fair, in contested possession," Hinkley said.

"It shouldn't be and we don't want it to be, but we're also developing some blokes around the ball.

"We expect and demand more of that over the ground and we didn't deliver on that last week."

While Port will start strong favourites, an upset loss would be devastating as they try to put their season back on track.

"I'm wary of the competition, I always am," Hinkley said.

"It's a terrible spot that I live in, sometimes ... there's not a game that I think any other way around (than) is it a danger game? Is it a risk game?"

Essendon recalled Jordan Ridley, Jye Caldwell, Harrison Jones and Andrew Phillips.