DANIEL Wells has taken the first tentative steps towards regaining full fitness, with the injury-plagued North Melbourne veteran impressing during a brief hitout in a practice match on Saturday.
The 31-year-old has played just 12 games in the past two seasons, including only two last year, as foot and Achilles injuries have threatened to curtail his career.
Wells was the overwhelming positive for the Kangaroos in a virtual intra-club match involving top-up players from their VFL affiliate Werribee in sweltering heat at their Arden Street headquarters.
As planned, the 224-gamer played a single quarter, gaining some desperately-needed match conditioning and touch and, most importantly, emerged unscathed.
The silky midfielder, who appears to have shed some kilograms in a quest to reignite his AFL career in the last year of his contract, also dazzled onlookers with a passage of play in which he showcased his renowned evasive skills and high-quality delivery.
Wells received high praise from young forward Mason Wood, who slotted a few goals in the second half when established key forwards Drew Petrie, Jarrad Waite and Ben Brown were rested.
"'Wellsy' is a sight for sore eyes. Some of his deliveries inside 50 were just so nice," Wood told the club's website post-match.
Evergreen 37-year-old Brent Harvey, who is on track to break Michael Tuck's AFL games record this season, was in fine form, bagging five goals in a half.
Ex-Hawk Jed Anderson was a welcome addition and was particularly busy forward of the centre in a predominantly attacking role, while former Saint and Bulldog Farren Ray was another new face to impress with a solid display on a wing.
With many senior players rested in the second half, it provided an opportunity for the draftees such as Corey Wagner to take centre stage.
"He's a little genius, Corey," Wood said of the No.43 pick in last year's draft.
"He'll be very handy this year whether he's in the ones or the two. A superstar in the making."
North Melbourne opens its NAB Challenge campaign against St Kilda at Wangaratta on February 20.