JONATHAN Brown is in doubt for round one with a nagging foot injury continuing to dog the champion Brisbane Lion.
Brown has missed a significant part of the past two months of training, but could be jogging again as soon as this week.
First he had a stress reaction in his foot, and more recently a nerve problem in the same foot.
The Lions play their round one match against Hawthorn on March 22, and football manager Dean Warren admitted Brown would be racing the clock to be fit.
After initially struggling to diagnose the most recent injury – between his big toe and the one adjoining – the Lions are still hopeful Brown can progress quickly and regain fitness.
Warren said Brown would need to play at least one pre-season match to prove his fitness.
"What happens over the next two to three weeks will determine whether he'll be right for round one or not," Warren said.
"He's been in the system for a long time, he's very professional in the way he prepares himself. There's still potentially a chance that he might be right for the start of the year.
"We certainly won't be rushing him back."
Brown, 32, missed the final month of the 2013 season with a plantar fascia (foot) injury that required surgery.
He went to Arizona with his teammates in November for a high-altitude training camp, but returned with a stress reaction that required time in a moon boot.
The nerve problem is possibly a side affect of his previous injuries, although the club is not 100 per cent sure.
"If he comes along well over the next week or two, we're reasonably optimistic he might still be right for round one," Warren said.
"He's been a little frustrated with it, not specifically knowing what it was. Now we know, he's dealt with it well.
"It's not a major issue at this point. It's put him back a little bit, but not significantly."