NIC NAITANUI has undergone "extremely minor" surgery on his reconstructed left knee, but the star West Coast ruckman is already back into full rehabilitation training, football manager Craig Vozzo says.
Naitanui recently had an arthroscope to trim cartilage he could feel at training during his bid to return late in the Eagles' campaign.
"He had a very minor tidy-up - I'm talking extremely minor – several weeks back, and he's back into his full rehab training now," general manager of football Vozzo told AFL.com.au.
"They trimmed a little bit of cartilage.
"They smoothed off an edge or something because he was feeling it when he was up to speed, but he's fine now.
"He's going terrifically well through his rehab."
Naitanui raced the clock to return in 2017 after rupturing his ACL against Hawthorn in round 22 last year.
He boosted his training loads after an intensive two-week camp working with US knee specialist Bill Knowles in July, showing encouraging progress in agility exercises and sprints as he pushed to be part of September.
But his hopes were dashed once the Eagles crashed out in a semi-final thumping from Greater Western Sydney.
Naitanui's much-anticipated return is now set to be during West Coast's pre-season matches next year, while his first home-and-away game back could be the opening AFL match at the world-class Perth Stadium in round one.
The Eagles will carefully manage the talismanic 201cm ruckman over summer but Vozzo confirmed Naitanui will be ready for pre-season training with the rest of the playing squad next month.
"He'll be going through very much an individual-based program," Vozzo said.
"He'll be with the main group but we'll be graduating his program.
"He'll have a very similar program to one that Sammy Butler had for the last three years of his career where you manage him as an athlete differently to the main group."
Club champion Elliot Yeo and veteran forward Mark LeCras will also be on managed workloads before Christmas.
Yeo has been resting a sore hip which kept him from representing Australia in the Virgin Australia International Rules series, but Vozzo denied the star half-back had undergone surgery.
LeCras had a post-season ankle operation, while full-back Eric Mackenzie underwent minor toe surgery.