Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says luckless forward Jamie Elliott is making solid progress in his recovery from back surgery and is well-placed to join in the Pies' pre-season training program.
Elliott was unable to take the field at all this season as he struggled with a pars defect injury in his back that was operated on in May.
The 23-year-old's presence has been sorely missed in attack this year, but Buckley is optimistic he can return to his best in 2017.
"He's going ok ... the surgery was obviously quite significant to put some support into a vertebrae," Buckley said.
"It's been a disappointing year for him no matter how you look at it.
"Right now he's been through hell and back for a young player who has really high aspirations about what he wants to be as a footballer and what he wants to provide to the club.
"But his progress has been positive, in particular, in the past month or so.
"We're pretty bullish about where he can get to. He will probably be in full training end of December or (early) January, but we have got plenty of time to graduate his load so that we can give him every chance of getting back to full fitness."
The Pies have endured a tough run with injury this season, which has been a factor in their disappointing campaign.
Dane Swan, Matt Scharenberg, Jackson Ramsay, Tom Langdon, Alex Fasolo and Tim Broomhead are among the players to suffer long-term injuries.