Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines and big-name recruit Jason Horne-Francis are among several Power players building fitness levels ahead of Round 1, while small forward Orazio Fantasia is "like another new player" after failing to get on the park last year.
Wines was among seven Port Adelaide players who would require surgery following the end of their 2022 campaign, with the Brownlow Medal winner needing to go under the knife on a niggling knee issue.
It was the second knee operation in less than 12 months for Wines, who was still able to play 21 games last year in what was his 10th season with the club.
While the Power were back into the swing of things this week during their first session of the new year, the 28-year-old remains away from skills sessions as the club looks to be cautious with their gun midfielder.
“Ollie's had some knee surgery in the off-season and it's been a real careful and slow build for us," Ken Hinkley said on Monday.
"We've been very mindful of Ollie. He's such a big trainer but we've just got to manage him really well. We've done that now and he'll be back into some skills training within a couple of weeks.”
Wines isn't the only high-profile player on the mend following off-season surgery, with the former No.1 pick requiring surgery on both of his legs shortly after joining the Power from North Melbourne at the end of last season.
Horne-Francis has since been kept to slowly building his fitness levels, running laps at training at Alberton in the club's first session of 2023.
"He's made some really good, steady progress since surgery and he was running just before Christmas and is building up his running now," Hinkley said of Horne-Francis.
"He'll probably get back involved in some training and some skill drills by – I would hope – by the end of next week but not too far after that, if not.”
Fellow 2021 first-round pick Josh Sinn was another Port Adelaide player to require surgery after last season, with the young defender-midfielder hybrid still requiring some time before being deemed able to partake in skills training.
The explosive sophomore firms as a potential replacement for departed wingman Karl Amon, with Hinkley confident the club will see a return on their investment and medical planning sooner rather than later.
“Josh has had some surgery again in the off-season and is building his way back in there," Hinkley said.
"You would have seen him running out there today. He's probably got another three or four weeks behind Ollie before he builds back into full training. We're really positive about what he's looking like at the moment.
"One hundred per cent he is (an option to replace Karl Amon on the wing). He's a high-quality player and a high draft pick who our club invested big into and if we look after him really well, we'll get the return over the next 10 to 12 years, not just the next 12 months.”
One man that is sure to excite Port Adelaide fans is Fantasia, who impressed in his first season at the club to boot 28 goals from 15 appearances in 2021.
The former Bomber faced multiple setbacks last year to only be named for one match, where he went unused as a medical sub in a Round 9 win over North Melbourne.
Hinkley said Fantasia has been a 'shining light' for the Power this pre-season, with the crafty goalsneak tracking well ahead of the new season.
“(Orazio is looking) really promising," Hinkley said.
"So far he's had a really good build in his pre-season, which we know is really important to him. His first year (with us), he had a really strong pre-season and played well. Unfortunately, last year it was well documented he didn't get anything go his way and we certainly missed him.
"He's one of our real shining lights in the pre-season and one that all Port fans can look forward to seeing early in the new year. Orazio, for us as coaches, is almost like another new player for 2023.”
Port Adelaide will open their 2023 season against Brisbane at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, March 18 before a clash with Collingwood in Round 2 and the Showdown in Round 3.
The club is coming off a disappointing 2022 season where they failed to make the top eight, recording 10 wins and 12 losses.