Collingwood forward Jamie Elliott is on track to resume running in late January as he continues his recovery from ankle surgery.
Elliott's AFL pre-season campaign was derailed in late November when he underwent surgery soon after his return from holidays.
The Magpies are happy with his progress but he still won't be able to resume full training until late February.
The 25-year-old Elliott carried the injury through the latter stages of last season and the medical advice was that he would return to full health with prolonged rest.
But he admits he knew something wasn't quite right as the start of pre-season training approached.
"During the off-season it felt OK when I wasn't running, then I'd run and it would be uncomfortable," Elliott told the club's website.
"I was a little bit naive because I could still run but I felt like maybe it wasn't (an issue).
"Then when I came back we had another scan ... we basically said that we've got time now to get it right and be 100 per cent or we could let it grumble along.
"Potentially it might've got right but it's better if we go see the surgeon ... they went in and fixed it up so hopefully I've got a brand new ankle."
Elliott believes he could have played next season without surgery but would have been "at 85 per cent".
He played 17 games and kicked 34 goals last season after missing all of 2016 with a career-threatening back injury that required surgery.
The Pies' forward line suffered another blow this week with Alex Fasolo set to miss about eight weeks of training after undergoing shoulder surgery.