High-profile St Kilda recruit Dan Hannebery predicts he is about four to six weeks away from playing football at any level.
After an AFL pre-season plagued by injury setbacks, the midfielder is out of the Saints' leadership group.
Hannebery has stepped away from the official role to concentrate on regaining his fitness.
"I'm not going to put an exact date on it, but I'm hoping to play some level of football in the next four to six weeks, around that frame," he said.
"I'm confident from here on in we'll have no hiccups, but I've said that before."
Last week, coach Alan Richardson said Hannebery's body needs to be rebuilt after persistent leg problems.
Hannebery, who has joined the Saints on a four-year deal, was only appointed to the leadership group last month.
"Yeah it's a mutual decision - obviously I haven't come out of the back half of the pre-season the way I would have liked," he said.
"I've had a few little niggles there and I guess at the moment, I'm just trying to put all my energies and focus into getting my body right, getting back to full fitness and trying to repay the faith the club has put in me."
He is yet to play for the Saints at all after his high-profile trade from Sydney.
"Dan needs to focus solely on getting himself into a position where he can deliver on his potential to help our team be better," Richardson said in a statement.
"The club wants Dan 100 per cent focused on getting back to his best and let his performances do the talking."
Australian Associated Press