NORTH Melbourne captain Jack Ziebell has returned from isolation in better condition than he was heading into the season-opener where he injured his right knee, coach Rhyce Shaw has declared.
Ziebell suffered a high-grade medial ligament strain (watch in the player below) in the two-point win over St Kilda on March 22, and was set to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
Now, with one session under his belt on Tuesday, Ziebell appears in stronger shape than he was approaching round one after a summer cruelled by calf troubles.
"I think he's in a better position than he was going into round one," Shaw said on Wednesday.
"He had an interrupted pre-season, he's had the chance to rehab his knee and has been running for 4-5 weeks which is a little longer than he had going into round one.
"I'm really pleased with where he's at. He trained fully yesterday and trained really well."
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Ziebell re-joined teammates in groups of eight for a skills session on Wednesday morning and will be continue his heavy running load on Friday.
Third-year midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke is progressing after his pre-season groin setback, but no timeline is in place for his playing return.
Meanwhile, Kayne Turner remains in the rehab group after a pre-season toe injury, but is on track for a June or July return after opting not to undergo surgery.
Development coaches Leigh Adams and Heath Scotland appeared to have a more hands-on role at training on Wednesday morning, filling the void left by stood down assistants.
Brendan Whitecross (forward line) and Jared Rivers (defence) failed to make the cut in the Roos' cull of 25 football department staff allowed for footy's retstart.
Head of development Gavin Brown and senior assistant Jade Rawlings are also expected to pick up some of the slack.
"We've been forced to make change and make decisions on people based on the guidelines we've been provided," Shaw said.
"It was a really hard time for everyone and making those decision, it was based on what's best for the footy club right now.
"I'm not shying away from that, I've got to make decisions that are best for our footy club and what the footy club needs right now.
"I feel as though I've done that and there's always going to be collateral damage from that."
Both Whitecross and Rivers will continue to receive JobKeeper payments while they're stood down indefinitely.