Star West Coast midfielder Andrew Gaff says he misses Willie Rioli and is holding out hope of playing with the premiership goalsneak again.
Rioli is facing a ban of up to four years for alleged urine substitution during a regulation doping test in 2019.
The matter was finally heard in December, with a decision expected to arrive later this month.
A ban of 18 months or less would mean Rioli could play from round one this season given he has been provisionally suspended since September, 2019.
But a suspension of three or four years could spell the end of what was building to be a splendid career.
"Hopefully the result comes pretty quickly," Gaff said.
"We don't know how long - if at all - we'll have Willie. We miss him as a player and love him as a person.
"No doubt he's been doing it pretty tough for a while. Hopefully we can get him back soon. We'd love him to play again pretty quickly."
Gaff is still building his way back to full fitness after completing his two-week quarantine period earlier this month after his return from Melbourne.
With quarters to be lifted back to 20 minutes plus time on this year and rotations cut to 75, players will find it harder to maintain their explosiveness during games in 2021.
Gaff is rated as one of the AFL's most durable and hardest-running players, and the 28-year-old said he is willing to sacrifice his interchange time in 2021 to help some of his more explosive teammates.
"You've got certain guys that are good endurance guys, and some guys are more burst players like (Luke) Shuey, (Elliot) Yeo and (Tim) Kelly, those guys that might need to go off a bit more," Gaff said.
"I might take a little bit of the slack with those guys so they can have maybe one or two rotations a quarter.
"But I still need to go off as well, especially when you've got a 30-degree day in Perth on a Saturday afternoon. It's not the easiest thing in the world.
"It might vary from week to week. I found the night games you can stay out there a little bit longer."
Gaff said Yeo (osteitis pubis) was making good progress, but the star midfielder is no certainty to be fit for round one.
Australian Associated Press