Chris Dawes is resigned to missing the first month of the AFL season as the Melbourne key forward recovers from his latest calf muscle injury.
Dawes hopes a conservative rehabilitation will mean that when he is finally back in the team, there are no more problems.
After leading the Demons’ goalkicking in 2014, Dawes only managed 14 games and 11 goals last season because of a persistent calf problem.
Dawes was already enduring an interrupted pre-season when he suffered a calf strain at training early last month.
“When I did that, the physio staff were pretty keen – and I agree with their approach – just to take as much time as I need,” he said.
“So when I start phasing back into games through the VFL, I’m right to go and I’m well-conditioned for a good year ahead.”
He said the realistic aim is to play again in round three or four.
Melbourne have won their two pre-season games and Dawes admits it is tough not to be in the team.
While teammates are focused on playing, Dawes is training hard in the gym and just starting to build his running.
“Especially having won a couple of games, everyone is feeling pretty good and training sessions are short and sharp,” he said.
“I’m very much locked away in the gym on my own – that isolating feeling is no fun.”
But Dawes added it is pointless dwelling on his bad run of injuries.
“If I start feeling too sorry for myself, it’s not actually going to help me at all,” he said.
“I may as well focus on what I can do, which is train hard and try and get as much work in without rushing things.”
Dawes is out of contract at the end of this season, but said that is a long way off.
His main focus for now is an AFL return and helping Melbourne improve this season.
“I’m aware of what a false dawn (for a team) can look like,” he said.
“That said, I’ve also been around successful clubs (enough) to know what the building blocks need to look like.
“The club, probably from about mid-2013, have really started putting those building blocks in place.
“Now we have to pull all that together.”
Dawes, a 2010 Collingwood premiership players, has been with the Demons for the last three seasons.
He wants Melbourne to not just be competitive against all teams this year, but start winning consistently.
“I want us to be able to go into a game against any opposition knowing that if we play to our capabilities, then we’ll win the game,” he said.