A TIBIA stress fracture has grounded Eagles youngster Oscar Allen this summer but the prized draftee is hopeful of being fully fit for the start of the season.
Allen arrived at West Coast with the injury after a standout draft year, which included winning the Larke Medal at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.
The athletic tall forward has been on a restricted training program – consisting mainly of swimming, weights and running on the Alter-G treadmill - but has started to join in some skills work recently.
"I've spent a lot of time in the rehab group with some of the senior boys," Allen told westcoasteagles.com.au.
"It's something which is slowly but steadily progressing, and I'm hoping to be getting to full fitness around the time of the start of the season.
"Fortunately for myself I've never had any serious injuries until this, so it's been a bit of a learning curve trying to deal with not being out on the track as much as I would like to be.
"But it's also a real character-building thing, so I think it can be a positive for me in the future."
Allen has been sidelined alongside some big-name Eagles, with Josh Kennedy (ankle), Andrew Gaff (foot/ankle), Elliot Yeo (hip), Luke Shuey (hip), Eric Mackenzie (toe) and Lewis Jetta (calf) on modified programs at various stages.
The West Perth product, taken with pick No.21 in the draft, bases his hard-running game on St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt and his appetite to improve, especially to get stronger in the gym, hasn't gone unnoticed.
"I tell you one thing, in rehab he's got a hunger for work," forwards coach Jaymie Graham told AFL.com.au.
"It's great to see he's on track and starting to get out on the oval and get amongst the boys.
"(He was) really leading the way with the rehab group and some of the senior boys in that group were impressed with his work ethic, so that's a good start."
If Allen continues to keep ticking boxes then he could be eyeing a debut for West Perth's arch-rivals East Perth when the Eagles' WAFL affiliate takes on powerhouse Subiaco in the season-opener on March 30.
"The next milestone for me in my rehab is trying to build into a full running week," Allen said.
"And from there, almost starting my pre-season individually in couple of weeks to ensure I get my fitness up for the start of the year."