Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia will adopt a careful approach with Chris Ikonomidis as the star Socceroo edges his way towards a long-awaited A-League return.
Ikonomidis hasn't played since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on February 1.
The 25-year-old has spent a large chunk of his recovery time in Sydney, but is now back in Perth training with the Glory.
Garcia doesn't want to put a time frame on Ikonomidis' return, but predicts it will be in the early part of the season which kicks off for Glory against Adelaide United on January 16.
"We still want to be careful with Chris," Garcia said.
"He's travelling really well in his rehab but we want to make sure we have him for the rest of the season and we don't re-injure anything.
"We're hoping (he returns) towards the front end of the season, but it all depends on his progress over the next few weeks I suppose.
"If that takes a little bit longer, then so be it."
Striker Nicholas D'Agostino, who battled a minor leg injury during the club's recent Asian Champions League campaign, is expected to be fit for Glory's season opener.
Glory players are getting themselves back up to speed after recently completing their two-week quarantine period upon returning from Qatar.
Although the quarantine period has severely interrupted Glory's pre-season, Garcia said the ACL experience would prove invaluable.
"That preparation is going to come in handy this year because the games are coming thick and fast this season," Garcia said.
Glory's squad is markedly different from the one that was coached by Tony Popovic over the past two seasons.
Key players such as Alex Grant, Juande, Joel Chianese, Ivan Franjic, James Meredith, Gregory Wuthrich and Tomislav Mrcela were among the departures.
Garcia confirmed the club was still looking to bring in a few more players before the start of the season and star midfielder Neil Kilkenny said the mass departures weren't unusual.
"Football is like that especially in the A-League," Kilkenny said.
"There's a big turnaround of players every season - I think more so in the A-League which I believe needs to stop. We need to get a settled squad and a settled team.
"But everyone is getting along really well. The new players and the young players have integrated into the squad well and hopefully they're ready to win games."