JACKSON Trengove won't return to competitive training for at least six weeks, but he still rates his chances of lining up for Port Adelaide against Fremantle in round one.
Trengove had surgery on his shoulder on January 15 after injuring it in a marking contest at training.
The key defender is one of the Power's most important players, vital to the team's premiership chances in 2015.
He will begin running again soon, but a return to competitive training remains several weeks away.
Trengove said his history of speedy recovery from injuries, including foot and ankle injuries last last year, meant he was well placed to prove his fitness before round one.
"I'm just starting to get into a few things this week and then hopefully be running within the next week or so," he said.
"The physical stuff … I think we'll be pushing pretty hard towards round one, and we'll probably leave it as late as possible and then smash it with a couple of weeks to go.
"The doctors and surgeon and physio that we've got at the club are all pretty confident that we'll be around the mark for round one.
"I've probably proven that I'm able to get back from injury a little bit quicker than [expected], so I'm pretty confident that round one is a big chance."
While Trengove completes his rehabilitation, young Power defenders Tom Clurey and Cam O'Shea will try to climb up the pecking order.
Clurey made his AFL debut in round one last year but didn't add to it, while O'Shea played some brilliant football in his 12 games.
Trengove said the club's depth was propelling it forward.
"We've got plenty of depth now at the football club, which is why we're starting to succeed," he said.
"When you've got that push from behind, and players who can just step in and play their role quite easily, I think is when your football becomes strong."
The Power will carry the weight of significant expectation this year after a preliminary final exit in 2014.
Their status as a genuine premiership favourite was confirmed last October by the arrival of star ruckman Patrick Ryder.
But Trengove said that while the playing group was working harder than last year to meet expectation, Port still had work to do to fully establish itself as a League leader.
"We've got a long way to go. I think everyone sort of puts us in that bracket just because we had a good year last year," he said.
"We're still a club that, if you look at us two years ago, we were down the bottom of the ladder.
"We've got a lot of proving to do."