REIGNING Gold Coast best and fairest winner Lauren Ahrens is racing time to be available for round one of the AFL Women's season in January.
Ahrens underwent foot surgery during the off-season and is still in a moonboot one month into the club's pre-season.
The Suns' defensive pillar is hopeful of removing the boot in coming weeks and being back in full training by Christmas.
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This will give her only a handful of weeks to be available for the opening match.
Ahrens is critical to the young Suns and their new coach Cameron Joyce, fresh off a season where she was the club's only representative in the 40-strong All-Australian squad.
In positive news for Gold Coast, midfield leader Jamie Stanton has recovered well from post-season ankle surgery and is back into full contact training, while forward Sarah Perkins (knee) is also going strongly after her 2021 was cut short.
Young midfielder Jacqui Yorston is also on track to play in 2022 as she continues to progress well after rupturing her ACL last pre-season.
The news isn't so good for youngster Annise Bradfield, who suffered the same injury as Yorston.
"Unfortunately Annise won't be ready to play for the upcoming season, but she has been hitting markers in her rehab and we're pleased with her progress," Gold Coast AFLW physio Jasmine Roulstone said.
"She was able to run in the two-kilometre time trial last week and we're hoping she can return to non-contact training at some stage in the next few weeks."