COMEBACK Cat Daniel Menzel believes he can win his "massive mental battle" and end this season a better player than before the first of his four knee reconstructions.
Menzel was the feelgood story of 2015 when he returned for his first AFL game in four years in round 22 against Collingwood.
He kicked four goals on a magical night at the MCG, 1450 days after he first ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Menzel is enjoying his first full pre-season in five years but the 24-year-old isn't setting a low bar for the coming season.
"As long as I can manage my knee as much as possible, in my eyes I can't see why I couldn't be a better player than I was in 2011," Menzel said on Wednesday.
"That's probably one of the goals for me, and then it's staying on the park every week and playing my role and just improving every single week."
Menzel kicked 28 goals in 18 games in 2011, his first full season in the AFL after making his debut in round 20, 2010.
Having spent the previous four summers in rehab away from the main group, he said he hadn't taken any moment of the pre-season for granted.
But he revealed he still had some mental scarring that he would carry with him throughout this season.
"There's still little things, agility and tackling, these sort of things, where I'm nowhere near where I want to be," Menzel said.
"I probably don't go into a contest and think about it but I do realise after and look back and (see that) I probably wasn't 100 per cent there, I wasn't as low as what I could have been.
"It is a massive mental battle. We were doing some one-on-one stuff before and I occasionally get sore in the knee, and it's frustrating because I can't do it at 100 per cent.
"But I just have to tell myself that every single contest is going to make me better and it's going to make me stronger and I will be at the end of this season a much better one-on-one player than what I am now."
Menzel was hopeful of playing at least two of Geelong's NAB Challenge matches.
The Cats face Collingwood at Simonds Stadium on February 26 before matches against Essendon in Shepparton (March 5) and Fremantle in Perth (March 12).