GEELONG remains confident that one of its key signings in last year's Gillette AFL Player Exchange Period, former North Melbourne ruckman Hamish McIntosh, will prove his worth in 2014.

Achilles and ankle injuries meant that McIntosh didn't play a game at any level during the recently completed season.

But the 203cm big man, who turned 29 in September, is expected to hit the ground running when the Cats begin their pre-season program next month.

"He's in good shape to be able to come back and start pre-season training along with everybody else," Geelong assistant coach Dale Amos told

"Hopefully that remains the case and there's no little setbacks along the way."

McIntosh, who signed a lucrative three-year contract with the Cats last October, has endured numerous setbacks over the past 14 months.

While still on the Kangaroos' list, he underwent LARS surgery to replace the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

That operation meant he always knew he would spent his first few weeks at Geelong in the rehab group. However, his run of bad luck meant he stayed in it throughout 2013.

McIntosh was struck down by Achilles soreness over summer, then suffered an ankle injury that refused to go away.

"The knee that he came here with was no issue, it was just other little things that popped up along the way and meant he couldn't get a run at it," Amos said.

McIntosh's hopes of playing a game this year were ended when he underwent ankle surgery in July.

But he recovered well from the operation and was back running by the time the Cats' premiership hopes were extinguished when they lost their preliminary final to Hawthorn by five points.

"He was in good shape by the end of the season, in terms of training, which has us all optimistic that moving into next year he'll be able to prepare really well by having a good pre-season," Amos said.

"There's no doubting his ability and the influence he could have on our team if we are able to get him right.

"Everything at the minute points to that being the case.

"We just need him to have a really positive pre-season, not have any setbacks, and be ready to play early in 2014.

"We'd love to see him play. He's an A-grade ruckman when he playing. So hopefully his physical limitations are behind him and he can have a good crack at it."

The Cats want McIntosh and fellow ruckman Dawson Simpson, who suffered a medial ligament strain late in the home and away season and subsequently missed the finals, to carry the rucking load next year.

If McIntosh and Simpson can fulfil their end of the bargain, emerging star Nathan Vardy will be free to take the position in the forward line vacated by delisted key position player James Podsiadly.

Twitter: @AFL_AdamMcNicol