Dayle Garlett's rapid fall from grace could culminate in a round-one appearance in the WAFL reserves after Swan Districts coach Greg Harding said the 18-year-old had arrived at the club out of shape after the off-season.
Garlett, touted as a top-10 pick on talent, was overlooked in last year's AFL national, rookie and pre- season drafts amid concerns over his partying lifestyle.
Despite pledging to "knuckle down" in a December interview with _The West Australian _, Garlett arrived at Swan Districts earlier this month a long way off the club's fitness standards after taking a break from training last month.
Harding said the AFL snub had been tough for Garlett, but he had work to do if he was to change the minds of recruiters.
"There was a period where he just needed some time away from the club, and he's taken that time and he's back now," Harding said.
"But he's still not where we need him to be physically right at this point in time.
"We are close to a month out from round one, so we expect after a month of training and a month of pre-season games over the next three weeks that he should be almost around the mark.
"In terms of his talent, we don't need to teach him how to play footy. We just have to teach him how to prepare for footy."
Garlett was an All-Australian under-18 last year, but was also dumped from the AIS AFL Academy and missed several WAFL games for disciplinary reasons.
Following his national draft disappointment, he trained with Essendon, but failed to win a rookie spot at any club.
He received offers from Bendigo and Sandringham in the VFL, but chose to stay at Swan Districts under the mentorship of former North Melbourne, Essendon and Sydney player Derek Kickett.
Harding said Garlett was one of the most talented youngsters he had seen and should be drafted this year if he matured off the field.
"Dayle's got a little bit of work to do before he comes in and plays, but if he knuckles down and trains hard, which I'm sure he will, we expect Dayle to have an even better year than what he had last season," Harding said.
"Dayle Garlett 100 per cent fit and training consistently is not just in our best side, but he'd be in any best side in the competition."