Kelly missed all of the league this year as he recovered from a hip operation and while he saw some game-time during the championship, the problem returned, necessitating surgery a fortnight ago.
With that having gone well though, the Ballincollig man is anticipating a slow process.
“Like last year, though, you don’t really know properly until you get back training how it’ll react,” he said.
“All I can do is just get the rehab done and then see how it is when I get back on the pitch, twisting and turning. It’ll be very much a case of listening to the body, but the general guideline for this type of thing is four or five months.
“I had it done at the end of September so hopefully it would be March but we’ll see how it goes. I won’t be rushing it.”
Kelly looked to have overcome his injury when he got back in action, but when the pain returned, he knew another operation was the best course of action.
“I came back then at the start of the summer but after a few weeks of training it got sore again,” he said.
“I played a club league game and I got an injection the day after that because the pain was back. The injection got rid of the pain and I played club championship and a couple of games with Cork, but it only lasted about four weeks. When the pain comes back it’s a disaster, you can’t train fully and it’s sore and stiff.
“As the season went on, it was so sore that I was always going to begetting onto the specialist again. I was lucky, I was due to get it done in four or five weeks’ time but there was a cancellation so I was able to get it done straightaway.”
Kelly is not the only Rebel footballer with a hip injury. Team-mate Damien Cahalane is also suffering from one and will undergo an operation after Castlehaven’s county SFC final with Nemo Rangers on Sunday week.
Meanwhile, the appointment of a new football manager for the county is not believed to be imminent. The six-man committee charged with finding a replacement for Conor Counihan had not met before yesterday, though it is believed a first meeting is likely before the end of the week.
Brian Cuthbert, a selector under Counihan, and former county U21 manager John Cleary are considered favourites, though neither has confirmed or denied that he is in the running. Former Cork minor boss Ephie Fitzgerald has also declared his interest.