Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir expects Nat Fyfe to resume training in February and be ready for the start of the AFL season.
The Dockers captain was struck down with a bacterial infection in a major setback in his recovery from shoulder surgery.
The dual Brownlow medallist had to be administered intravenous antibiotics in hospital for three weeks to treat the infection.
Fyfe underwent season-ending reconstructive surgery in late July but his recovery did no go to plan and he needed another operation.
But Longmuir was pleased with how the 30-year-old superstar was now tracking.
"He's been able to start sweating after the infection got in there and we seem to be on top of that," Longmuir told AFL Draft Radio.
"It's going to be a bit of a long slow process, in some ways it's disappointing.
"We expect him to be right and back in training by mid-Feb or maybe late Feb.
"We expect him to be right to go for the start of the season.
"All is not lost because he's been a pretty good bank of work under his belt so we expect him to come up to the mark pretty quick."
Fremantle's first to fifth-year players returned to pre-season training on Monday, with former Geelong speedster Jordan Clark joining the session.
The Dockers finished 11th last season, one win and percentage outside the top-eight.
Fremantle have three selections inside the top-20, including picks six and eight, in this week's AFL Draft.
Australian Associated Press