North Melbourne defender Ben McKay will miss the start of the season after scans revealed bone stress in his right foot.
His absence will be a blow for the Kangaroos as they prepare to play West Coast in the opening round at Marvel Stadium, a match that represents an opportunity for North Melbourne to get an early win under new coach Alastair Clarkson.
McKay, who is out of contract at the end of 2023, played 15 matches last season and battled for continuity early in his career. The club has not set a date for him to return but admitted the injury was a blow for McKay, with club football manager Todd Viney describing his pre-season as seamless before the injury occurred.
“Our immediate focus is to ensure Ben’s symptoms settle. His rehab program will continue to evolve with the aim to integrate him back into the training program in due course,” Viney said.
Cats could be without four premiership players in round one
Meanwhile, Geelong could launch their premiership defence in the round one blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG without four of their premiership 23 in the line-up.
The Cats will obviously be without retired skipper Joel Selwood – for the first time since 2006, as he played round one in each of his 16 seasons.
Jack Henry will also be missing, with a foot injury potentially ruling him out until mid-season; he had surgery on Monday. He was slated to play forward if Tom Hawkins did not recover from a foot injury in time to play round one.