VETERAN Hawk Michael Osborne is adamant he still has plenty to offer and hopes to be fully fit by the start of the season.
Osborne required a knee reconstruction after he suffered a high grade but incomplete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral ligament in his left knee against Melbourne in round seven, having played in all matches to that point.
The small forward, preparing for his 13th season, has cautiously rebuilt his fitness base and will look to continue this during the Hawks' training camp on the Sunshine Coast.
He then faces a fight to reclaim his spot in a team seeking redemption for its stinging grand-final defeat. ''The knee is coming on really well. I have been running for the past few weeks and I have been doing some introduction to skills and jumping,'' Osborne said on Friday.
''The knee is taking all the loads really well. Hopefully, I will do a bit more while we are up here and join in with the boys in the skills training and do a bit more on my own over Christmas and hopefully be into full training with the rest of the team after new year.''
Osborne's work as a small forward - he booted 21 goals from 20 matches in 2011 - had become part of Alastair Clarkson's game plan until his injury.
The Hawks have already spoken about using the 163-game veteran as a high half-forward or as a tagger when he returns.
''I think I still have some value there for the team,'' Osborne said.
''[I will] probably play a similar role as the last few years, in the forward line and pushing up into the midfield. But I am happy to do whatever.
''I started my career with Hawthorn in the back line, so if they need me down there I feel comfortable. Those boys seem to rack up a fair bit of footy as well, so it would be nice.''
Osborne, 30, was delisted after the season as the Hawks needed to find a spot for Jonathan Simpkin, the delisted free agent from Geelong. But the promise to Osborne was that he would be redrafted, and that happened with the Hawks' final selection at the national draft.
Osborne said he had been nervous heading through that period. ''Definitely, [there were] some anxious times there. Anything can happen in the draft but it all panned out well. I am happy with the result,'' he said.
Boom recruit Brian Lake continues to train strongly, with the Hawks hoping the veteran full-back will help his team be less exposed in one-on-one battles against the league's premier forwards. Champion Data forecasting has ranked the Hawks as having the second-best defensive unit in 2013, behind Geelong.
''Hopefully he has got some good footy left in him,'' Osborne said of Lake. ''Our back line, our defence, has been working pretty well over the last few years, so having Brian down there, if he has some good footy left in him and he plays it for us next year we will have a really strong defence.''
The Hawks have taken a cautious approach to Luke Hodge's recovery from knee surgery, and have flagged the possibility their captain will miss the opening month of the home-and-away campaign to ensure that he is in peak fitness later in the season.
■ Greater Western Sydney midfielder Dom Tyson will be out of action until well into next season after rupturing a knee ligament.
The 19-year-old will have surgery next Tuesday to repair the posterior cruciate ligament he injured at training on Wednesday. He is expected to be ready to play again in May.