FORMER co-captain Callan Ward will miss the opening month of the season as the only injury concern for a star-studded Greater Western Sydney midfield unit.
The 29-year-old has resumed full running but will sit out pre-season matches and require at least one hitout at NEAFL level to prove he's ready after he ruptured his ACL in round four last year.
Following several years of setbacks to key players over summer, the Giants face the scary prospect of having a full midfield contingent at their disposal inside the early rounds.
"He'll (Ward) be back round three or four, whether he's ready for AFL footy then or he needs a couple of weeks, time will tell," Giants coach Leon Cameron told AFL.com.au.
"He'll probably play a game or two at the lower (level) before he gets back."
The smooth-moving Josh Kelly has enjoyed a faultless pre-season and is finally pain-free after dealing with groin troubles over recent years.
New captain Stephen Coniglio is firing after his knee setback ruled him out of last year's Grand Final, while Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper are ready to take the next step as elite midfielders.
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Lachie Whitfield's ankle reconstruction was the only major surgery for the Giants after a bruising September campaign, but he has returned to main training through January and February.
A knee complaint discovered during off-season running will rule Toby Greene out of contention for Victorian selection in the State of Origin Bushfire Relief game. However, the star forward has completed the bulk of training since Christmas and will take part in the Marsh Community Series.
"We've actually had a better pre-season than the last three years because of numbers on the track, probably averaging 38-41 and fluctuating between that," Cameron said.
With Ward to miss, the door will be ajar for 2018 first-round picks Jye Caldwell, Jackson Hately and Xavier O'Halloran to push their case for round one alongside 2019 Academy star Tom Green.
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Adam Tomlinson's departure for Melbourne has also vacated a wing role that will be hotly contested among those four youngsters, as well as Harry Perryman, Nick Shipley and Adam Kennedy.
Cameron said speedy half-back Lachie Ash who, "like Green, is already built like a man" has put his name up as a contender for round one selection.