MITCH Clark is eyeing a return to football in February's NAB Challenge series after missing most of last season with a foot injury.
The Melbourne key forward has had a horror run since joining the Demons at the end of 2011, playing only 15 games for the club since crossing from the Brisbane Lions.
Clark suffered a serious LisFranc injury to his foot in 2012 and had surgery on the foot again this year to remove a screw after experiencing soreness.
His last game was in round four, for Melbourne's win over Greater Western Sydney, but after a strong start to this pre-season Clark has set his sights on some exposure before the home and away season starts.
"I'll be putting my hand up [to play in the NAB Challenge] and I'd definitely like to play some footy before round one, so I'd imagine I'd be ready to go," he told Melbourne's website.
"I'm just feeling really refreshed and excited for 2014 and I've been able to get through a few sessions now, which is good. I just want to get through to Christmas and then have a bit of a break again and then get going for round one."
The 26-year-old was lured to Melbourne as a high-profile recruit but the injury has stopped him from showing his value while the club struggles on-field.
New coach Paul Roos is aware of Clark's importance to the Demons and Clark, too, is keen to avoid any setbacks.
"It's been a long haul [and] probably a bit longer than I would've liked, but that's the way it goes sometimes," Clark said.
"The foot's feeling really good at the moment – touch wood. I've been able to train with the boys since the start of pre-season and the medical staff have been really good in managing me through.
"[With] Roosy coming in, he has been really understanding of where I'm at. I’m just trying to build up to Christmas and tick that off and then start again after Christmas."
Mitch Clark running laps at Melbourne training on Wednesday. Picture: AFL Media
With an injury-free Clark, Chris Dawes and emerging youngster Jesse Hogan set to debut in 2014, Melbourne has an impressive group of tall forwards.
Injury has stopped the trio from even training together so far, but Clark is keen to start building some chemistry with the pair.
"It's exciting. I'm really looking forward to the day that all three of us get on the track and do some work together," he said.
Meanwhile, the Demons have announced the Melbourne Cricket Club logo will be embedded into their guernsey for 2014 and beyond.
That red and blue jumper will also carry the New Balance logo for another three seasons after the company extended its partnership with the club.