SAM Docherty is confident of a Round 1 return in 2020.

However, the Carlton co-captain said he would not be taking any unnecessary risks in his recovery from a second ACL rupture.

The Blues leader detailed his pre-season plan when speaking to RSN’s Inner Sanctum as he sets his sights on a return to football.

“We’re going for the ‘take as long as we possibly can’ route,” Docherty said of his recovery.

“With eyes on Round 1 next year, it’s about what’s the best program that will make me right for Round 1.”

With a full pre-season ahead of him, the experienced defender is clear on what he needs to tick off to line-up for the season opener.

“I’ll train through November and December, but it’ll be non-contact and taking as much possible risk out of training as you can,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ll be doing one-on-ones and high contact stuff or change-of-direction: I’ll be doing open running drills.

“When the guys are doing those things, I’ll be on the sidelines with one of the physios doing a breakdown of what they’re doing in a safe environment.”

Outlining his training plan for the summer, Docherty hopes to peak in his fitness and strength in the weeks ahead of the 2020 season.

“The philosophy is how can I get absolutely perfect and hit Round 1 running and going as well as I possibly can: I probably peaked in November or December last year.”

Part of the star Blues’ rehabilitation will be a visit to Bill Knowles, a renowned sports injury expert located in Philadelphia.

The specialist referred to as “the trampoline guy” has previously worked with West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and Melbourne’s Jake Lever in there respective recoveries from ACL injuries.

“I’m going to Philadelphia just before I go back, Bill Knowles is one of the specialists over there,” he said.

“We do this stuff in rehab all the time, jumping on trampolines and on different surfaces.

“From what I’ve heard, he’s unbelievably good at that and is really specific in the way that you land, knee and ankle joint angles and ability to change direction, jump and land.”

Docherty believes the trip stateside is what is going to set him up for a strong pre-season back at Ikon Park.

“It’s a perfect lead-up: I do that for a week, then I’m back for a week and then I’m back training. I’m trying to prepare myself for pre-season.”