Carlton defender Sam Docherty has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and will likely miss the entire 2018 AFL season.
The 2017 All-Australian injured his left knee in a seemingly innocuous incident when running in pre season training.
The 24-year-old will undergo traditional surgery over the coming days before commencing rehabilitation.
Carlton Head of Football Andrew McKay said the club would fully support the defender throughout his recovery.
“Sam is a total professional and a resilient young man and we know he will face his rehabilitation process with the utmost dedication,” McKay said.
“As a terrific young leader at our club, Sam will continue to work with the leadership group and assist in the development of our young players both on and off the field.”
“While we are incredibly disappointed by the long-term nature of Sam’s injury, it provides an opportunity for our young defenders to continue to train hard over the pre-season to solidify their spot in the backline in Sam’s absence in 2018.”
Since crossing to Carlton in 2014, Docherty has played in 79 of a possible 88 games for the Blues.
The former Brisbane halfback won Carlton’s best and fairest last year and was selected in this years All-Australian team.
The injury will be a massive blow for the Blues who were hoping to rise up the ladder in 2018.
Carlton will enter the new season without Docherty and Bryce Gibbs, who both finished in the top four in the Blues Best and Fairest this year. Gibbs was traded to Adelaide during the trade period.