Chastened by his poor 2012 AFL season, Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge is aiming for a round-14 return.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said on Friday that his star utility would need a mini pre-season before he returned to the senior side.
A broken arm in round one and then a knee injury in round six that needed surgery last month means Hodge has only managed four matches this season.
Hodge had a two-hour running session on Saturday morning before the match against Melbourne with teammates Alex Woodward and Luke Surman.
The Hawks’ skipper is notorious for his impatience when out of the side, but admits he cannot rush this return.
Hodge, who turns 32 this month, spoke of his frustrating 2012 season when he only managed 10 senior games.
At the end of that year, there was speculation about how much longer his career would last.
But Hodge has been outstanding since in the Hawks’ three-straight premierships.
“At this stage, it’ll be round 14,” Hodge said.
“Probably body-wise and injury-wise, I could play next week or the week after, but I found out after 2012, if you rush back too early, you may not have the impact you want.
“So a mini pre-season means I will get three good weeks of work and then down to Tassie where we play Gold Coast.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
Hodge said that weekend was when Woodward was also scheduled to return to playing from his third knee reconstruction.
The Hawks’ captain is in a group of four star veterans at the group who are 30-plus.
“We’ll take it one season at a time,” Hodge said.
“There’s been a lot of questions about (my future).
“The situation all footy clubs are in are there’s a lot of older players and you have to suss out how the list looks at the end of the year.
“I just want to get back to playing good footy and the rest will take care of itself.”