WEST Coast ruckman Scott Lycett is a strong chance to play in round one after showing significant improvement from a knee operation in September last year.
Lycett played with a sore posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the last month of 2016 and hobbled off in the elimination final loss against the Western Bulldogs.
He could feature in the JLT Community Series as he steps up his recovery, and his looming return looms as a major boon for the club, with star big man Nic Naitanui no guarantee to play this year after requiring a knee reconstruction at the end of last season.
West Coast football manager Craig Vozzo told the club website Lycett would likely play at some level in the next month.
"His volume has increased quite significantly over the past month. I'd forecast that he'd be playing some game minutes in the back half of the JLT Community Series," Vozzo said.
"Whether that's with the senior team or East Perth, I'm not sure. It will be dependent on how he ticks off each milestone over the next few weeks."
The Eagles' final pre-season game is on Thursday, March 9, against Melbourne at Domain Stadium.
Former Hawk midfielder Sam Mitchell rejoined the main group after rolling his left ankle at training and is set to face Fremantle on Saturday, February 25.
"He had some swelling (but) it's now predominantly gone away. He won't play this week but that's because we're playing a young team, more for management purposes," Vozzo said.
"He's tracking really well, trained with the main group yesterday and he'll be no problem moving into JLT2."
Onballer Liam Duggan is not far off a return to full training after he hurt his left hamstring last month.
"He's almost ticked off to (join) main training, so he's almost over that hamstring injury, touch wood," Vozzo said.
"There's one final thing he has to tick off tomorrow and I expect that he'll be elevated to our main training group, with a view to getting him ready to play some game minutes in the next two to three weeks."
Draftee Willie Rioli is expected to return in the first half of the season after a hamstring operation.
"It was decided that he will have some surgery because of the tendon involvement, but the good news is he'll be out for an eight-to-10 week period, possibly a little more depending on how it progresses," Vozzo said.
"We're going to see some good footy from Willie in the first half of the season, we're sure about that."
Like Naitanui, Simon Tunbridge required an ACL reconstruction for his left knee, but he had a hybrid LARS surgery last December to allow for a shorter recovery time.
"The first milestone is getting on the ground and doing some running and not having any swelling or similar. It looks like we've gotten over that first milestone," Vozzo said.
"From the time of the op, it's probably a six-month estimate that we're looking at."