Collingwood star Jordan De Goey has had a procedure to fix his troublesome right shoulder in a small setback ahead of the 2023 AFL season.
The explosive midfielder underwent a minor arthroscopy on Monday and will spend a few weeks on the sidelines.
But the Magpies expect De Goey to be back in full training early in the new year, long before their Round 1 meeting with premiers Geelong on March 17.
De Goey initially injured the shoulder during Collingwood's qualifying final defeat to the Cats and was sent for scans, but carried on through the finals series.
"Jordy had some soreness ... and we gave him pretty much the whole break to let it settle down, which is normal," Magpies assistant coach Hayden Skipworth told reporters on Monday.
"He's not quite where we need him to be.
"He went to see a specialist and he's having some minor surgery to get him back on track, but he'll be back running within a couple of weeks.
"We gave him as long as we could and we didn't want to affect the pre-season much longer.
"It was - get him in and he'll be back running before our Christmas break."
De Goey considered leaving Collingwood before signing a five-year contract extension at the end of September.
Negotiations stalled at one point because of the club's determination to insert behavioural clauses in the 26-year-old's new contract.
But the parties reached a compromise, with such clauses reportedly only in the first two years of the new deal.
De Goey attracted serious interest from rival clubs, including St Kilda and Essendon, despite off-field misdemeanours that have threatened his career over the last 12 months.
The 137-game midfielder is a crucial part of the Magpies' premiership plans in 2023 after they reached a preliminary final in Craig McRae's first season at the helm.