EXCITING Geelong forward Steven Motlop does not expect to return until round five or six after undergoing knee surgery in London three weeks ago.
It means the Cats will be without the dynamic Motlop and midfielder Allen Christensen in the first month of 2014 when they play Adelaide, the Brisbane Lions, Collingwood and West Coast.
Motlop would be touch and go when Geelong plays arch-rivals Hawthorn in round five.
Motlop told the Geelong website the operation had been a success and he was now focused on strengthening the muscle around his knees, quad and calves.
"Once I strengthen that I'll get into full running. [After] a couple of weeks of running and a couple of weeks of full training I will try to get some match fitness," Motlop told CatsTV.
Motlop said his patella tendon had given him problems for most of his career. The club initially thought a modified program during this pre-season would solve the issue but when the progress was slower than expected it opted for surgery. Motlop said that once he returned to full strength he should experience no pain.
The 22-year-old had a break-out season in 2014 kicking 44 goals and being nominated for the All Australian team. His talent was on display consistently and he finished fifth in the club best and fairest. He re-signed with the Cats at the end of last season and has played 51 games since being drafted in 2008.   
He said the surgeon had done a good job but the next phase of recovery was very important.
"Just not to rush it and stir it up again is the main thing," Motlop said.
The Cats have a few injury concerns leading into round one but are hoping talented youngsters such as Lincoln McCarthy, Jordan Schroder and George Horlin-Smith can take another step forward this year.