MAJAK Daw should play in the JLT Community Series after receiving the better-than-expected news his right knee injury will only sideline him for four weeks.
The North Melbourne ruckman/forward suffered a meniscus tear in a straight-line running drill last Monday, an injury that can involve a rehabilitation period of up to eight weeks.
North senior performance consultant Steve Saunders said scans of the injury suggested the injury was worse than initially expected, but Daw's operation had allayed the club's fears.
"It scanned a little bit worse than we actually found out it was, so we're looking at a timeframe for Maj of returning to full training in around four weeks, so we're really happy with the outcome," Saunders told NMFC.com.au.
"He was doing a straight-line running session last week, [he] had onset of some knee symptoms and he's had an arthroscope last week just to tidy up a small medial meniscus tear.
"We are always a little circumspect until we've gone in and had a look at the pathology … the pathology turned out to be less than what we saw on the scan, so it's a great outcome.
"It's a pretty minor procedure so there's a little bit of recovery time around that. Most of the time is around making sure that his muscular system is back up to scratch and he's ready for the loading associated, so that's why we're talking four weeks rather than two or three.
"Maj will get adequate game time leading into round one."
Daw seems unlikely to be available for North's opening pre-season match against Sydney in Coffs Harbour on February 19, but could return for its matches against Hawthorn (Arden Street, February 26) and Greater Western Sydney (Manuka Oval, March 10).
Daw, 25, has played just 25 games in seven seasons with North, but looks well placed to enjoy an extended run at senior level in 2017.
North ushered in a new era late last season when it bid farewell to veterans Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito, Nick Dal Santo and Daniel Wells, with Petrie's departure designed to create opportunities for Daw and fellow emerging forwards such as Mason Wood and Ben McKay.
Daw enjoyed a strong finish to 2016 that included a four-goal haul in North's elimination final loss to Adelaide.