Bartlett finally ready to make his AFL debut for Lions
CALLUM Bartlett is due for a slice of luck.
The Lions rookie-listed midfielder goes into this season having already undergone two knee reconstructions.
He was forced to go under the knife for the first time just before the start of 2009 when he was a Geelong Falcon in the under-18 TAC Cup competition, causing him to miss the entire season.
Despite that, the Lions rated the youngster highly enough to take him as their first pick (No.27 overall) in the national draft later that year.
He played about eight games in the Brisbane reserves before a serious injury to his other knee saw miss a large chunk of the 2011 season.
This pre-season has also had its share of dramas. The 21-year-old has battled glandular fever, but remained upbeat the worst was behind him.
"Just to get through pretty much the whole pre-season is a massive bonus for me - it was my first one which wasn't bad," he said.
"I'm probably the fittest I've ever been in my time at the club."
Bartlett said watching on from the sidelines for the past three years while others made their debuts has been tough.
"The hardest part is you've got to watch blokes your age doing well, playing games," he said
"Then the next draft comes through and you've got to watch them play games."
With the Lions midfield brigade including the likes of Tom Rockcliff, Jack Redden, Daniel Rich, Brent Moloney and Simon Black, Bartlett faces a tough task to break into the line-up.
But, with his body ready to fight for a spot, so is he.
"Probably just determination (kept him going). I just wanted to play footy and I hadn't had a taste of AFL footy, and that's what I came here for," he said.
"I just want to get off the rookie list, play good footy in the reserves and hopefully I can put my hand up for senior selection at some stage this year."
If anyone deserves, that, Callum Bartlett does.