The Newcastle Jets have confirmed that young defender Johnny Koutroumbis will be sidelined indefinitely after he was diagnosed with stage one thyroid cancer.
The 20-year-old will put his football career on hold to deal with the illness, undergoing surgery in Newcastle on Monday to remove the thyroid gland.
He will undergo further treatment in the coming weeks under the close supervision of his surgeon and the Jets' medical team.
Encouragingly, the prognosis on Koutroumbis’ condition is considered to be very good due to how early the cancer was discovered.
“Johnny has a wonderful family who are right behind him, but our entire Club and the football community will also be with him every step of the way,” Jets Football Operations Manager Joel Griffiths said.
“We’ve been advised the prognosis is good and this is very treatable, especially given this has been caught so early.
“Johnny originally reported a lump at the base of his neck to Nathan Renwick [Club Physiotherapist] and he was sent for scans.
“Early intervention in these scenarios is so important, it’s great that this was able to be found and Johnny can now receive the treatment he needs.
“We won’t be placing any timeframes on his recovery at this point, we’re just wanting to make sure he gets all the treatment and support he requires.”
Koutroumbis was one of the Jets' most consistent players in 2017/18, playing a key role in the club's surge to the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.
He made 13 appearances for Ernie Merrick's troops, scoring two goals and leading the Jets defenders in the percentage of tackles that he won (75%).
The Jets open their Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season with an away game against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.