Frustrated Melbourne co-captain Jack Viney admits he might not play until round three of the AFL season and even then he could return to the field via the VFL.
Viney has been on a modified training program for most of the pre-season as he recovers from a persistent foot injury.
Just days before the Demons kicked off their pre-season series, coach Simon Goodwin was adamant that Viney would play in round one.
However, last week he was ruled out of Melbourne's season-opener against Geelong and his exact return date remains up in the air.
"I'm not far off ... I'm looking to play in the week after round one or the week after that, all going well," Viney told Fox Footy.
"Where that is [the AFL or VFL] hasn't been decided yet and is something that myself and the coaches will have to work out when the time comes."
The 23-year-old had surgery to relieve plantar fasciitis in his right foot after round 15 last season and missed just two games.
He has since admitted he had returned too early after developing a stress fracture in the same foot.
"I was expecting to be running and back training and playing well before I have been," Viney said.
"It's been frustrating, but the original injuries - my plantar fascia and my stress fracture - are fine now. It's just these little things that keep bobbing up.
"Having lost support in my foot and running differently and putting different loads through different bones, I've just got these little niggles popping up every now and then.
"I finally feel like I'm over the hump of bad stuff and now it's just fine-tuning my body and getting it 100 per cent for the season."
Morning & Afternoon Newsletter