St Kilda will be without defender Ben Paton for at least three months after the backman sustained a left pectoral tendon rupture at training this week.
That timeline will likely place Paton out of action until mid-May, approximately a Round 8-9 return for the 25-year-old.
Saints football boss David Misson confirmed the extent of Paton's injury on Tuesday, with the defender to go under the knife this week.
“This is obviously a disappointing blow for Ben,” Misson said in a club update.
“Sadly, this isn't the first time Ben has dealt with a lengthy injury setback having broken his tibia and fibula in 2021, however, he proved that he has the resilience and strength to overcome such adversity.
“Ben will see the surgeon today next and will likely have surgery later this week.
“We will be best poised to ascertain his return to play timeline after that, however, early indications suggest the rehabilitation period with (sic) be at least three months.”
Paton played 12 games under Ross Lyon last year, balancing his time between senior and VFL level to bring his career tally to 67 games.
The Mitta United product missed the entire 2021 season with a broken leg sustained during the pre-season.
St Kilda has also confirmed recruit Paddy Dow will resume training drills in two weeks following a recent knee injury.
That setback places Dow in some doubt for the Saints' first pre-season game against Essendon on Friday, February 23, however, the former Blues midfielder could line up against North Melbourne the following week.
St Kilda is scheduled to make the trip to GMHBA Stadium in Round 1 for a meeting with Geelong on Saturday, March 16.