St Kilda's AFL finals hopes have suffered a blow with Jade Gresham facing an extended stint on the sidelines because of a stress fracture in his lower back.
The damaging midfielder reported soreness after Monday night's heavy defeat to Geelong and scans subsequently revealed the damage.
Gresham, who finished sixth in the Saints' best-and-fairest award last year, could now miss the rest of the 2020 season.
"It is disappointing for the club and for Jade personally, but the best course of action is an extended period of rest," St Kilda chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said.
"He has been developing well this season as a more permanent midfielder and now that responsibility will fall to others to fill the void.
"Thankfully, the injury has been discovered relatively early but until a period of rest is completed and scans are re-done in six or so weeks, then we will need to treat it conservatively."
Gresham had played all 11 matches this season, kicking seven goals, and averaged 18 disposals.
It is yet to be determined whether the 23-year-old will remain with St Kilda's travelling party in their Queensland hub or return home to Melbourne.
The Saints are in action again on Sunday when they take on Essendon at the Gabba.
Australian Associated Press