Timing is right for Demons' vandenBerg

Melbourne Demons' Aaron vandenberg is determined to make up for lost time after injury.
Melbourne Demons' Aaron vandenberg is determined to make up for lost time after injury.

Aaron vandenBerg spent so long on the sidelines battling a chronic injury that it's fitting his return to AFL ranks has coincided with Melbourne's barnstorming late-season run.

After nearly two years out and three operations, he was due a little good fortune.

VandenBerg's last game before the onset of a career-threatening foot injury was in round 23 of the 2016 season; a 111-point belting at the hands of Geelong in Paul Roos' last match in charge.

In six games since making his long-awaited return in round 20, the Demons have lost just once and have the chance to reach their first grand final since 2000.

"It's nice to be involved with the team as opposed to being in rehab by yourself ... I couldn't have timed it any better really," vandenBerg told AAP.

"You have your doubts from time to time, but the overall mindset was always that I'd get back and play. You need to have that mindset otherwise you let rehab beat you.

"The coaching and medical staff were always very reassuring, but it is nice that it's actually happened.

"I've been able to come in and play a role and hopefully that continues for another couple of weeks."

While he played 14 games in 2016, vandenBerg's battle with injury started in 2015 when he hurt his right ankle in a training mishap with Chris Dawes.

He played through the pain of floating bone in his ankle and that led to complications with his kicking foot.

But the 26-year-old winger is buoyed by what he's been able to achieve since winning back his spot and is bullish on where he can go with a full pre-season under his belt.

"It's pretty hard to work on your game when you can only do one limited session and then play on the weekend," he said.

"To be able to get back after not doing a lot for two years and knowing that I can still play at the level I've been able to gives me a lot of confidence that there are better things to come."

Australian Associated Press