STAR Hawthorn forward Jack Gunston is hopeful he will be fit for day one of pre-season training after being forced to undergo another round of back surgery.
Gunston had surgery on his back in December and missed the first six rounds of this season.
He made a low-key AFL return against the Saints in round seven, but he was pulled out the following week after suffering a back spasm during the warm-up of his team's clash with West Coast.
Gunston has been sidelined ever since, and Hawthorn revealed on Tuesday that the 29-year-old had a second round of back surgery last week.
The 209-game veteran is contracted with Hawthorn until the end of 2022 and, although there are rumours he could be traded out, Gunston said he was looking forward to playing again with the Hawks next year.
"I'm feeling good," Gunston told hawthornfc.com.au.
"I was disappointed we had to go in again and do something else (with the back). But I'm really confident that it went well.
"The beauty of doing it now is we can get ready for day one of pre-season. I would have loved to have been out there. It's a frustrating year. But I'll be ready to go in two or three months.
"Being on the sidelines has been good for me. I've been able to do a bit of coaching and helping a lot of these younger guys hone in on their craft.
"We've seen a lot of the young guys really excelling over this year. I'm ready to get out with them next year."