AN INTERRUPTED pre-season continues to plague Richmond premiership midfielder Dion Prestia, but the Tigers are confident he won't miss more than a fortnight with a calf injury.
The 25-year-old suffered a hamstring injury in February and didn't play in the senior side until round four.
Richmond is hopeful the former Gold Coast Sun will miss just Sunday afternoon's clash against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
"Unfortunately the rigours of AFL footy, the game is incredibly hard. It's played at breakneck speed and generally if you don't get the pre-season in, you're trying to catch up," coach Damien Hardwick told reporters on Friday.
"We thought we still got a lot of work into Dion that was required. We didn't rush him back but the game is so hard these days, if you're not probably at your very best from a preparation point of view, it is going to catch up with you at some stage.
"We're confident that it's at the low end and he'll be back to play a lot of footy for us towards the middle-to-late part of the year."
Prestia could miss the following Sunday's game against West Coast at Optus Stadium, which has been criticised for its surface being too hard, although work is being done to soften the turf.
Fellow onballer Shaun Grigg, who is battling a hamstring concern, is in line to return for that game.
"We're hoping (Prestia's) a week. Whether it turns into two, we're not too sure. It's on the minor side but once again with Dion, he's such an important part of our team that we'll be very conservative with those sort of guys," Hardwick said.
"Shaun Grigg's pretty much the same. Touch and go whether he could've played this week."
Captain Trent Cotchin missed last week's win over Fremantle after his left knee collided with a goal post late in the Tigers' round six victory against Collingwood.
He was pulled out on the day of the Dockers match after still having swelling in his calf, but Hardwick confirmed the Brownlow medallist would be back.
"He will (play). He'll train today. He was touch and go last week so we're really confident that he'll get through training today and play," Hardwick said.
The 28-year-old will be important against a North side that is second in the competition for points conceded. Richmond, however, is No.1 for that stat, and is riding a five-game win streak.
"What we probably find at Etihad is it is probably more of a dour type (of) affair. Although the game is inside, it's very rarely a high-scoring game. It's probably a little bit easier to defend, but how it pans out, we're not too sure," Hardwick said.
"We're both really capable offensively. They've got big Ben Brown down there who's a really exciting player and Mason Wood, jeez, he looked a star last week as well."
Meanwhile, defender Alex Rance voiced concern about his side possibly "upsetting the apple cart" if it recruited Gold Coast co-captain and restricted free agent Tom Lynch.
Hardwick said he didn't have a problem with Rance's comments.
"I try and control Alex on the field and I have a hard enough time doing that, let alone off the field," Hardwick joked.
"But he's terrific. I love guys that do have an opinion.
"Look, our list management decisions are very much in-house. We try not to discuss it in public, but we're happy for our players to voice their opinion as they see fit."