TOM LYNCH has been ruled out of Richmond's Opening Round clash with his former club Gold Coast, but is still a chance to feature in round one against Carlton.
The spearhead forward has not played since round four last year, battling a serious foot injury, and his rehab has been a point of intrigue over the summer.
"I'm feeling really good, the last three-four weeks I've really picked up the loads and started transitioning into footy over the next week or two. I'm looking forward to getting back to the main group and out of rehab," Lynch said.
"(Opening Round) is going to be a bit tough, especially with the five-day break leading into round one. I'll put my focus on round one, or even that Port Adelaide game in round two.
"All things are tracking well, I've clearly missed a lot of football, I need to get some good training under my belt and some conditioning. We don't want to rush back, we want to get as many games this year as we can.
"So if I miss Opening Round, so be it.
"My foot bone is completely healed, it's just the (risk) of soft-tissue – clearly, I hadn't run for nine months, so I need to get some miles back into my legs. If we wanted to really push, I could get up ... but I want to play for the whole year."
When he does return, Lynch is set to feature in a new-look forward line containing key defender Noah Balta and recruit Jacob Koschitzke, after the retirement of perennial leading goalkicker Jack Riewoldt.
Balta played up forward in an intra-club match simulation last week.
"Noah's been really good, he's been training really well. Obviously, we've got 'Kozzie' in from Hawthorn, and he's doing a great job. They're able to get a lot of training under the belt together and forming a great partnership so far," Lynch said.
"Noah's obviously a great talent, he's at the point of his career where I feel like he's going to take the next step and really develop into a consistent player. At his best, we know how good of a player he is, and he's obviously played a bit of forward and predominantly down back.
"'Ooze' (new coach Adem Yze) likes him up forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck, where he can use that athleticism he possesses."
Richmond and Collingwood have jointly announced a partnership to earmark their upcoming practice match as a charity shield game, raising funds for Foodbank Victoria.
The Tigers pitched the idea to the Pies, the neighbouring clubs embracing their working class roots and hoping to make it a permanent fixture.