MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Nic Naitanui of the Eagles looks on during the 2018 AFL round 17 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the West Coast Eagles at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 15, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Star Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui is targeting a mid-season return to the field from his ACL injury, potentially as early as round 10.

After being sidelined for 19 months from his first ACL injury, the 28-year old is confident of making quicker progress this time round.

West Coast have a bye in round 13 this year, and Naitanui would like to be back beforehand.

“Having that prior knowledge from doing my knee last time, I’ve probably been able to speed it up a little bit more,” Naitanui told AFL.com.au. 

“It’s progressing really well. I’m back running and kicking the footy. Pretty pleased with it so far.

“Last time I was on crutches for six to eight week longer than what I was this time, so I was able to get moving and do some strength stuff through my legs in particular.

“Just checking my number a bit earlier on today, going a bit stronger through my legs than I did last time/

“I had a bit of bone stuff going on in my knee (last time) as well, which I had a little bit of this time but not the same extent.

“But also, I guess playing the way I do we weren’t sure (the first time) what was the right process.”

Naitanui, who comes out of contract at the end of this season, said he will be willing to take a pay cut on his new deal.

“I’m not sure what date that will be but I’m not one to hold the club to ransom,” he said.

“This club has looked after me since day one, and they’re not going to do me wrong.

“I’m a realistic person with knowing I’ve got two compromised knees now.

“We’ve got a lot of senior guys in the team now, a lot of premiership players as well, so to keep that core group of players a lot of us will (have to take pay cuts).

“Whatever they put forward I’ll be happy with it.”