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Three-time premiership player Tim Watson believes forward Jamie Elliott is Collingwood’s most valuable asset.

On Friday, the Magpies announced Elliott requires surgery on a troublesome left ankle, which will influence his preseason. The 25-year-old is expected to miss full training until at least the New Year. Throughout his career, Elliott has also battled with back and hamstring ailments.

Watson believes the dual Gordon Coventry Award winner is vital to Collingwood’s 2018 aspirations, due to his proficiency in the forward half.

“This bloke is a superstar and I think he is their most important player,” the former Essendon captain told SEN Breakfast.

“He can do stuff that no one else in that forward line can do. They’re not overpowered with players that can play in the front half of the field.

“In 2015, he kicked 35 goals, and he kicked 34 in 17 games this year. I think he is capable of kicking between 45-65 goals in a season if he is 100 percent fit and raring to go.

“He is a marking target. A lot of the small players are the ground-level crumbing type players, but he is actually a marking target in their forward line.”

The Murray Bushrangers product averaged 14.1 disposals and 5.9 score involvements throughout the 2017 campaign.

Two-time Melbourne best-and-fairest winner Garry Lyon declared Elliott a “match-up nightmare.”

Collingwood Director of Football Geoff Walsh says surgery was the only option for the small forward after assessing the seriousness of his ankle complaint.

“The injury was one Jamie played with late this year,” he said.

“The recommendation post-season was that with a spell from the rigours of playing and training the ankle would heal. Unfortunately the healing process has been slower than expected and surgery is now appropriate.

“We’re expecting to have Jamie back into the full training program by late January.”

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