WANGARATTA is confident stars Matt Grossman, Ben Davies and James Wong will be at Norm Minns Oval next year.
The Pies’ gun trio are still weighing up their futures and a potential deal is still about a month away.
The Melbourne-based travellers are close friends and are likely to stick together.
“We’re certainly keen to have them back but we’ll sit down with them when the time is right,” coach Mark Knobel said.
“We’d be keen to have it sorted by early November.”
Grossman won the best and fairest this year after a breakout season, while Davies and cousin Wong are two of the Pies’ most valuable players.
Brendan Fevola is the only player to kick more goals than Wong since he joined the Ovens and Murray.
Wong has booted 123 goals in his 35 games for the Pies.
Davies, meanwhile, was pried away from Wodonga Raiders after winning their best and fairest last year but was tagged heavily this year and failed to have the same impact.
Grossman is overseas, stalling the negotiation process.
In one definite change to the Pies’ list for next year, man mountain Trent Rutherford won’t be back.
Knobel, who is entering his second year at the coaching helm, said the Pies would continue to blood their strong junior stocks.
Wangaratta won thirds premierships in 2011 and last year and is relying on those talented youngsters to make the transition to senior level over the coming seasons.
“We’re pretty big on our home-grown talent,” he said.
“We’ve got about 10 more coming through for next season and we want to make sure there are spots and opportunities available.
“We’re keen to keep developing our kids, most of which we’ve signed up, and hopefully we can add one or two quality recruits on top.”