Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell admits he doesn’t yet know whether he will be ready for Round 1 as he continues his recovery from an ugly leg break a year ago.
The Hawthorn midfielder missed the entire 2019 season but remains optimistic about getting back to his best.
“It was actually 12 months on Saturday. I’m tracking well. I’ve slowly started to integrate into team training drills and things like that,” he told SEN Breakfast.
“I still don’t have a confirmation date on a return to play, but I’m really enjoying being among the boys and being a part of team training instead of running laps by myself.
“I can pretty much do everything. Once you integrate into the team training, you’re running, you’re kicking, you’re changing directions, so everything I’m going to need to do to play I’m doing that, but just at a lower level.”
While Mitchell is back in training, he is still managing his loads to make sure he doesn’t re-injure himself and believes the Hawks now have a deep enough midfield to take some of the pressure off his shoulders.
“Coming off a pretty nasty injury you have got to be a little bit realistic and maybe train smarter than harder,” he said.
“I need to pick my sessions when to train with intensity and know when to bring it back down so my body can adjust to training loads again.
“I definitely would like to get back to the standard I was playing at, but having said that we have got a number of midfielders who are running through there and even guys on the outside.
“I feel as though we have a really deep midfield and whether that means we’re spreading the load more, that might be helpful for the whole team so I’m not sure how it is all going to look once game time starts.
“Individually I would definitely like to get to a high standard of playing, but I’m not sure how long that is going to take coming off a big injury.”
Despite not being sure whether he will be ready for Round 1, Mitchell has put his hand up for the bushfire relief State of Origin game at the end of February.
“To be a part of a game that’s going to such a great cause and fundraising money for all the tragedies happening around our country, it is definitely something I would like to be a part of,” he said.
“It’s also to be able to challenge yourself against the best players in the competition.
“I am hoping that I will be right to play, but I’m not too sure where that all stands and it will be up to the medical team.”