Jack Ziebell during pre-season training
JACK ZIEBELL could miss the start of North Melbourne's NAB Cup campaign after receiving minor knee surgery, but is confident he'll be back to full fitness for his side's season-opener against Collingwood.
The Kangaroos' vice-captain experienced knee soreness when training resumed in January, and the club took a no-risk approach by booking him in for a clean-out procedure a fortnight ago.
Ziebell conceded it was "not the best result" but said he was "extremely thankful" the problem had been fixed now rather than flaring on the eve of the premiership season.
"I think the way we've handled it has been spot on really," he told NMFC.com.au.
"It was just good to be able to get it done while we have plenty of time up our sleeves before the season starts. Doing it now means I'll be perfectly fine for round one and even some of the NAB Cup."
Before the operation, Ziebell had not missed a pre-season training session. He believes his high fitness base will hold him in good stead for his eventual return to the track.
"It's a lot easier to get back into it after having done a fair bit of work already," he said. "It won't be like starting afresh, I should be able to get back up to speed with my fitness pretty quick."
The club's director of medical services, Steve Saunders, confirmed Ziebell is "tracking really well" and would be "set up perfectly" for the premiership season.
Ziebell, 21 (he'll be 22 next month), has played 62 AFL games. Last year he made 17 appearances, being suspended for four games for a controversial bump on Carlton's Aaron Joseph.
He was one of the Kangaroos' few good players in their 96-point elimination final loss to West Coast at Patersons Stadium, collecting a season-high 30 disposals.