RICHMOND spearhead Tom Lynch is confident he will be clear of his troublesome foot injury in time to hit the ground running in his first season under new coach Adem Yze.
Lynch missed most of the 2023 season due to a slow recovery after breaking his right foot in round four.
It proved a hammer blow to the Tigers' season, and realistically Yze will need his imposing key forward fit and firing in order to make a splash in his debut campaign.
The 30-year-old Lynch conceded he wouldn't start pre-season with his teammates, but expected to build over the summer in time for the season opener.
"I won't be with the main group pre-season day one," Lynch told reporters.
"But I'll build throughout pre-Christmas, then I imagine post-Christmas I'll be with the main group
"It's a very long way off, but all things going well I'll be no worries at all for round one."
Lynch spent a long time in a moon boot, but was back in normal shoes on Tuesday, when he admitted he had been frustrated with his slow recovery.
"With feet, they can just take a long time to heal," he said.
"So it just didn't recover and then when it wasn't going to get back for this year, we decided to take the plate out, so that's why I've been in a moon boot since.
"The plate's come out and we've had to look after it, so it's taken a lot longer than we thought, but it's all on track now.
"I (previously) had a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction, but I think this one was more challenging because I was still in the boot, I was improving, but I wasn't ticking off many goals."
Lynch hasn't started running, but hopes to be cleared in the next two to three weeks.
"I'll get another scan just to make sure it's 100 per cent," he said.
"We've obviously gone very cautious at the moment and we've got a lot of time before round one and pre-season.
"We'll meet the surgeon again and he'll tick it off and I'll be able to progress and really get into some loading through that footy."
Lynch recently met new mentor Yze, who was appointed on September 21.
"It's really exciting," Lynch said.
"He seems like a great person and a really good coach, so I'm looking forward to him being our mentor.''
Lynch laughed off social media rumours linking him to a move to Melbourne.
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"There's a lot of wild rumours that get around this time of year," he said.
"But yeah, there's no truth to that at all, I'll be at Richmond."