Melbourne co-captain Jack Viney is playing the long game in his recovery from a persistent foot injury as he eyes a potential round-three AFL return.
Viney has been on a modified training program for most of the pre-season after last year undergoing surgery to relieve plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
The 23-year-old missed just two games but struggled with complications including a stress fracture in the same foot.
Viney has more recently grappled with ankle and toe niggles - an unintended consequence of a change in his gait.
A vital midfielder for the Demons, Viney has opted to give himself extra time to recover before potentially coming back through the VFL.
"I feel like if I wanted to I could play now but it would just constantly be an issue and I would constantly not be able to train during the week, which is something I did last season and I'm really not fond of it," he told reporters on Thursday.
"I didn't have too much enjoyment in doing that so I'm trying to learn from that experience and make sure that when I do come back to play, my body's feeling good, my head's feeling good and I can last the whole season."
Fellow co-captain Nathan Jones has suffered back spasms during the off-season but is expected to play in Melbourne's AFL season-opener against Geelong.
The 30-year-old missed six weeks last season with a quad injury.
"He's becoming a bit of a fossil now. His body seems to be breaking down on him a bit," Viney joked.
"He's just had some back issues which have been niggling him for a while but it shouldn't be an issue come the season.
"He has been playing more wing and half-back over the pre-season. He'll definitely play a fair bit of game time in those positions but his body should be right to come through the midfield."
Key forward Jesse Hogan is another player who has been earmarked for midfield time with Viney impressed by his pre-season form.
"He's a super-talented player and knows how to use his body effectively," Viney said.
"We feel like he can get a real advantage from having him roll through there at certain times in the game."