Collingwood tall Darcy Moore has been battling an Achilles injury which has limited his pre-season.
Moore is set to become a key defender in 2018 after spending his early career as a key forward, but has only been training at 75% of his maximum capacity due to the ongoing issue.
The 203cm high-flyer has taken no part in match simulation sessions since Christmas and was a notable absentee during Saturday’s match practice.
Achilles injuries are generally associated with older players, for example teammate Daniel Wells and legends Matthew Pavlich and Chris Judd, who all suffered similar issues towards the end of their careers.
Renowned sports medico Dr. Peter Larkins said that younger players could also experience issues however, in particular tall prospects such as Moore.
“Any running athlete can have troubles with it. It’s not always the older players that get it. It’s not a good sign,” Larkins told Fairfax Media.
“The one thing we know about tendons is that they’re one of the slowest tissues to repair.
“Your fitness can be there but in terms of conditioning, as far as playing, it’s more difficult.
“He’s only got six weeks to condition, it’s certainly not ideal but it’s not the end of the world if it’s just soreness.”
Larkins believes that Moore could struggle early in the season in his new role due to his limited pre-season, yet the Pies aren’t overly concerned about Moore’s health.
“It sounds like a broken record, but if a player doesn’t have a good pre-season he’s unlikely to have a good first half of the season,” Larkins said.
“If you’re having a poor pre-season, you’re certainly not likely (to start strongly).”
“The problems with an Achilles tendon is that…it’s likely to flare up with the wrong type of load.”
In positive news for Collingwood, forwards Alex Fasolo (shoulder) and Jamie Elliot (ankle) are recovering strongly from their off-season setbacks and are both good chances of featuring in round one.
Fasolo is hoping to take part in the JLT community series to gain match fitness while Elliot is aiming to return to the field in round one of the season proper.
Collingwood face Hawthorn on the Saturday night of round one at the MCG on March 24.