A serious foot injury is expected to cost emerging Essendon defender Marty Gleeson half the AFL season.
The Hampden league export will be sidelined for up to 14 weeks after suffering a broken foot and dislocation in the Bombers’ JLT Series win against Geelong in Colac on Sunday.
Gleeson, who was drafted via Koroit, underwent surgery in Melbourne on Monday.
Essendon teammate and fellow Hampden-honed talent Zach Merrett said it was disappointing news for the 69-game Bomber.
“We have to be upbeat for him so he can be positive going forward,” Merrett said from Essendon’s community camp in Port Campbell on Monday.
“He’s obviously someone important to us with his pre-season (form) and the way he’s been playing the last couple of years. We see him as a really important player for us going forward and into the future, so it’s a bit of a hiccup at the moment but I see him playing another five or 10 years at the club.”
Merrett, who will visit his former schools in Cobden on Tuesday, said the Essendon players had rallied around Gleeson.
“Accidents happen unfortunately in the game but it is just really disappointing and with the timing that it’s happened a week before round one when he’s had such a good pre-season,” he said.
General manager of football Dan Richardson is optimistic Gleeson, 23, could return after the Bombers’ round 13 bye.
"Marty suffered a major fracture to the front of the talus and a minor dislocation to the subtalar joint in his foot," Richardson said in a club statement.
"While this is an uncommon injury, we are fortunate he is in the safe hands of our medical team and Mr Andrew Oppy.
"We expect Marty to be sidelined for 12-14 weeks, but through a successful rehabilitation program we believe he could be in a position to return after the bye."
Essendon starts its 2018 season against Adelaide on Friday, March 23.
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