Harley Bennell hopes to be back in full training next month with Melbourne as he attempts to revive his ailing AFL career.
The troubled former No.2 draft pick began training with the Demons this week in a bid to win a spot on the club's list during the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP).
Bennell, whose 83-game career has been savaged by a long list of soft tissue injuries, had another round of surgery on his troublesome calf last month.
The 27-year-old has since had a specialised rehabilitation program laid out by world-renowned new Melbourne high performance boss Darren Burgess and is confident it will put him on a path back to AFL ranks.
Bennell told reporters before training at Gosch's Paddock on Wednesday he was aiming to be back in full training "just before February".
"We've still got a long way to go, you know, with the rehab program," Bennell said.
"But I'll back 'Burgo' in, I'll back the medical staff in here and it's really exciting times ahead."
Former Gold Coast and Fremantle star Bennell managed only two games in four seasons with the Dockers - both at the end of 2017 - before being delisted this year.
He has been given no assurances by Melbourne, who this week signed former Essendon and Geelong player Mitch Brown under the SSP rules.
"(I just have to) stick to the program really," Bennell said.
"I like things straight away, but I'll just take my time slow and steady here.
"But I can't wait to get the ball rolling."
Despite his well-publicised injury woes and off-field drama, Bennell said he never contemplated quitting the game.
"I never thought of giving it away, I just needed some time away from football," Bennell said.
"I was lucky enough that (infant daughter) Carter came at the right time. It was just a blessing.
"Amy (Bennell's partner) and baby moved in almost three weeks ago now and we're loving Melbourne.
"We've got some great people around us that can help lead us in the right direction and I'm really excited for the time that Melbourne have given me."