Canberra’s Alex Smout has vowed to “bounce back” as he eyes a return to full training within the next fortnight.
The 24-year-old has been unable to take part in the club’s full pre-season schedule since undergoing surgery in December though he says his recovery is tracking well.
“The foot’s coming along nicely, a week or two and I’ll be back into full training which is good, at the moment I’m only doing some light contact,” Smout said.
The midfielder suffered a fractured foot when he attempted to tackle a teammate during a training session in November.
Despite the disappointing setback, the former Frankston star believes he can bounce back stronger than ever before.
“It was disappointing for sure, but I've put it behind me now and I would like to think I am better for it.”
"I think I’m mentally stronger, and physically that bit more developed now, and I'll look to bounce back stronger and have a real impact on the side this season."
The injury came as a major blow to Canberra as the club look to build on last year's impressive rebound, which saw them finish the home and away season in the top six and one win away from a Grand Final berth.
Despite his injury interrupted pre-season Smout says his aspirations remain firmly on team success, believing Canberra have a side well positioned to claim a maiden NEAFL Premiership in 2019.
“I think we definitely have a side capable of premiership success this season, we've added an array of new talent while retaining our core group of players and our goal will be to go that one step further this season.”
Addressing last year’s heartbreaking preliminary final loss to the Sydney Swans, Smout says his side took the loss as a learning experience and will use it to provide motivation in 2019.
“It's one of those games you replay over and over in your head thinking what could we have done differently."
"It's something that's hard not to hold onto, we learnt a lot from that game and hopefully we can use it as motivation and go that one step further this season."
Having averaged 29.4 disposals, 5.9 marks and 5.1 clearances last season Smout finished in the Top 10 of the NEAFL’s MVP voting and was named Canberra's 'Most Consistent Player'.
Despite the individual success he says he isn’t content and will look to take his game to the next level in 2019.
“Individually I would like to use that (the injury) as fuel to the fire and it’s something that pushes me on to be better and drives my want to get back.”
The NEAFL released the competitions pre-season fixtures last week and Smout says while he is unlikely to play a part in the clash with GWS his goal is to be fit when the Demons’ clash with the Sydney Swans next month.
"The goal right now would be to play some minutes in the game against the (Sydney) Swans and push for selection."
Canberra open their pre-season account on the 7th of March against the GWS GIANTS before clashing with the Sydney Swans on the 23rd of March.