ALLANSFORD onballer Nick Johnstone is unsure if he will feature in Warrnambool and District league football finals.
Johnstone yesterday received confirmation he had a small fracture in his lower right leg, the cause of persistent pain during the second half of the season.
The diagnosis has ruled the 24-year-old out of the Cats’ elimination final clash against Old Collegians at Merrivale Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
He could return in coming weeks should the Cats stay in contention, although a chat with his doctor will provide clarity about his playing future.
“It depends on the doc. If he says next time I run it’s going to break, there’s not much point going out there,” Johnstone said last night.
“But who knows. If we win this game you never know. I’ll have to wait to sit down with the doc and see.”
Johnstone first injured the leg against Dennington mid-season. He played on in the weeks that followed, believing he was battling shin splints.
But the pain,“like a needle jabbing in your leg”, became progressively worse, prompting the 2012 J. A. Esam Medal winner to see a doctor.
An X-ray, bone scan and MRI scan followed before the fracture verdict yesterday.
He has not played since round 15 when the Cats lost to the Warriors by five points and Sam Holloway broke a collarbone in three places.
Optimism he could return as early as next weekend stems from the hope that the bone has healed during his three weeks off football.
“All I’ve been doing is no impact stuff on my leg, a lot of swimming, bike riding,” Johnstone said.
Allansford coach Josh Parkinson said the saga had been frustrating for Johnstone and the Cats.
“Just not knowing has been more the frustration. They couldn’t work out what it was. They’ve come back today and said there’s a fracture,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone was confident enough to diagnose it at the start. He’s still got to go see the doctor and discuss what he was told on the phone.
“It’s not a really bad one but it’s something that could turn into a bad one if we don’t heed the warnings.”
Parkinson conceded Johnstone, a leading chance to clinch a second league medal, would be a “big loss”.
But he believed Allansford still had a midfield which could “do some damage in the next month”.
Holloway is near-certain to miss the rest of the season although Parkinson, Travis Membrey, Jason Wilson and Leatham Robe return to the side.
“You can’t replace a player like (Johnstone). He’s got X-factor, he’s a match winner, he’s a goalkicking onballer: they’re really hard to find,” Parkinson said.
“Certainly as a collective, we’re going to do our best to make up the difference.”