Young Newcastle Jets attacker Joe Champness will miss the majority of the club's pre-season training schedule after the club confirmed he suffered a fracture in his foot during a training session at Ray Watt Oval on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old suffered the injury in a fairly innocuous incident, coming off second best when challenging for the ball during a routine drill.
Champness immediately left the pitch for a medical assessment, with the club's medical staff expecting him to be sidelined for the next 8 to 10 weeks with the injury.
It's a massive blow for the Jets ahead of the new season, with Irish striker Roy O'Donovan to miss the start of the 2018/19 campaign due to suspension.
“It’s a real blow for us and for Joey, he’s been impressive since returning for pre-season,” Jets boss Ernie Merrick said.
“We’re still about two months away (from 2018/19), so Joey has plenty of time to recover but missing a significant portion of pre-season will certainly impact his conditioning.
“We’ve been working the boys extremely hard over the last few months and that will continue, I’m a big believer in getting plenty of miles into our legs during this time of year.
“It’s something we’ll work on through Joey’s rehab and our Medical Team will be doing everything they can to have him ready to go for the early part of the season.
“We certainly won't be rushing him back or taking any risks.”
The injury also means Champness is out of contention for the Australian U23 squad which is set to be announced next week.
On the of the real finds of the club's surge to last season's Grand Final, Champness featured in 27 games in 2017/18, scoring five goals and providing two assists.
He'll not only miss the club's high-profile pre-season F3 Derby friendly against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, August 25 but also the Jets' FFA Cup Round of 16 clash against Melbourne City on Wednesday, August 29.