AFL injury news: Sam Walsh will miss the first month of the season after injuring his ankle

Fresh off inking a mega deal to stay at Carlton, Sam Walsh and the Blues have been dealt a terrible blow with the star midfielder suffering a long-term injury.

Walsh hurt his ankle during match simulation last week, with specialist advice confirming on Monday that he would require surgery for a syndesmosis injury.

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The injury comes just days after Walsh inked a four-year contract extension with the club.

The 21-year-old had also been elevated to the role of vice-captain this year.

“It is obviously disappointing news for Sam,” Carlton football boss Brad Lloyd said.

“He’d completed every session so far over the summer but unfortunately these incidents are a part of footy. Sam will throw everything into his rehab and his teammates will continue to do the same for the start of the season.

Sam Walsh injured his ankle during match simulation and will miss at least the first month of the season. Picture: Michael Klein
Sam Walsh injured his ankle during match simulation and will miss at least the first month of the season. Picture: Michael Klein

“Sam leads from the front with his professionalism and commitment every day he walks through the doors of the footy club and there’s no doubt he will take the same approach to his recovery over the coming weeks.

“We’ll continue to assess Sam throughout his recovery, at this stage we expect him to be available to play again after the first month of the season has been complete.

“There has been some real competition for spots in that midfield group over the summer so we look forward to seeing who puts their hand up and takes their chance over the coming weeks.”

The usually durable Walsh had not missed a game in his first three years in the AFL since being selected at pick No.1 in the 2018 National Draft.

Walsh averaged 29.8 disposals and 4.7 clearance to win the Blues’ best and fairest last year, while he also finished fourth in the 2021 Brownlow Medal count with 30 votes.

Carlton is set to tackle St Kilda in a practice match on February 24, before tackling reigning premier Melbourne in its AAMI Community Series match on March 3.

The Blues will host Richmond in Round 1 of the season proper at the MCG on March 17.

Dons receive huge Shiel injury boost

—Jay Clark

Essendon is confident jet midfielder Dylan Shiel has avoided serious damage after tweaking his quad on Saturday.

The Bombers are pleased with the results of scans which have cleared the former Giant of a muscle tear.

Essendon was on Sunday unsure if Shiel would miss any training this week, but will discuss the matter further when the midfielder meets with medicos for further assessment on Monday.

Club chiefs are certain the issue is very minor.

Dylan Shiel received good news on his quad injury. Picture: Michael Klein
Dylan Shiel received good news on his quad injury. Picture: Michael Klein

Shiel failed to finish training on Saturday and was sent for scans as a precaution after complaining of quad soreness.

Shiel is expected to play midfield and forward for coach Ben Rutten this season.

Jake Stringer is also expected to push to return to full training this week after suffering a groin problem last week.

The Bombers will play some match simulation from 10am on Wednesday at Tullamarine.

DONS OPTIMISTIC AFTER INJURY SCARE

By Chris Cavanagh

Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel will have scans after sending a scare through the Bombers’ camp when he left the training track early on Saturday.

Shiel pulled up sore while completing some drills and took no further part in the session.

An Essendon spokesperson told News Corp that Shiel had suffered some “tightness in his quad” and would have scans “just out of precaution”.

The latest injury scare comes after Shiel missed 15 games last season, having surgery after he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee during the Bombers’ Round 2 loss to Port Adelaide.

He had ranked second behind Zach Merrett at the Bombers for total disposals in 2020, when he played 15 or a possible 17 games.

Shiel has been one of the standouts on the training track for Essendon over summer and has caught the eye in recent match simulation.

Essendon has a practice match scheduled against the Western Bulldogs at Tullamarine on February 23, ahead of its AAMI Community Series clash with St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on March 5.

Dylan Shiel was sent for scans due to a quad concern.
Dylan Shiel was sent for scans due to a quad concern.

KEY MAGPIE FACING DELAYED START TO SEASON

Jon Ralph

Collingwood will be without key defender Jordan Roughead for the opening weeks of the coming season after he underwent shoulder surgery on Thursday.

Roughead, who forms the key pillars of the Magpie defence alongside Darcy Moore, had an arthroscope on the joint after being troubled by the issue for some time.

“Jordan has been managing the shoulder for some time but it reached a point where surgery was required,” Collingwood head of football Graham Wright said.

“The expectation is that he will be out of the selection frame for eight weeks or so, which could see him available by rounds five or six. We’re certainly hopeful of that.”

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Jordan Roughead has undergone shoulder surgery. Picture: Michael Klein
Jordan Roughead has undergone shoulder surgery. Picture: Michael Klein

Roughead, 31, has played 62 games at Collingwood since crossing from the Western Bulldogs in 2019. He was part of the Bulldogs historic 2016 premiership win.

The blow could open the door for mature-age key defender Charlie Dean, plucked by the Magpies in the rookie draft last year.

The former Williamstown star was the latest to earn an AFL promotion after winning the Fothergrill-Round-Mitchell Medal as the best young player in the state league competition, averaging 15 disposals, 8.3 intercept possessions, 2.9 intercept marks and 85 ranking points.

Worst fears realised as Suns have fight on their hands

Gold Coast remains optimistic star forward Ben King might soon kickstart contract talks despite confirmation on Friday one of he game’s brightest prospects has ruptured his right anterior cruciate ligament.

King’s knee crumbled on him as he attempted to fly for a mark at training on Thursday in a potentially devastating development for the 21-year-old, the Suns and the AFL.

The exciting young star is the AFL’s most valuable weapon as it attempts to crack into the tough Gold Coast market and finally establish a successful team after 11 mostly failed seasons.

But Gold Coast confirmed King’s ACL blow in a development that, under the very worst case scenario, means he could have played his last game for the club.

King was the centrepiece of the Suns’ plans to rise up the ladder this year and play their first finals series in the club’s history in a development that would increase Gold Coast’s chances of retaining their young stars.

“Unfortunately Ben’s ruptured his ACL in his right knee in a pretty simple marking contest that he’d been in many times before,” GC SUNS General Manager of Football Performance Wayne Campbell said.

Ben King will be sidelined for the entire 2022 season. Picture: Getty Images
Ben King will be sidelined for the entire 2022 season. Picture: Getty Images

“Ben’s going well, whenever someone goes down with an ACL it’s shattering for a start. “He’s got a really strong family and we’ve got some really good support around him from the footy club, it’s not ideal by any stretch but we know Ben’s strength of character will see him attack the challenge in a positive manner.”

King, swingman Jack Lukosius and exciting goalsneak Izak Rankine all come out of contract this year, with Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew facing a do-or-die season given his contract also expires.

The Suns are still extremely confident they will secure King’s signature past 2022 on a shorter-term deal which would likely be for two more seasons.

He has indicated he is keen to build something special at the club and the Suns are optimistic they could start contract talks before the home-and-away season starts.

King last week indicated he was happy with the Suns future, saying: “I’ve seen enough from this club in terms of the future that I think we are going to have. Finals or not, I’m pretty confident about where this club is heading”.

But St Kilda has long held out hope of dragging him back to Melbourne to play alongside brother Max.

Already on $650,000 per season, both St Kilda and Gold Coast would likely reward him with deals of up to $1 million per season, with brother Max having successfully returned from his own ACL tear.

The AFL is desperate for the Suns to finally win some respect on the Gold Coast, a tough market which needs success from a sporting team to be won over.

If King is done for the season after averaging 2.14 goals a game last year the Suns will have to rely on new free agent Mabior Chol, ex-state league tall Josh Corbett, raw young draftee Mac Andrew and injury-prone tall Sam Day to provide a forward target.

The Suns also made what now seems an increasingly smart decision to secure back-up tall Levi Casboult, who had to be convinced to be vaccinated to secure his spot on the Suns list.

But few teams are as reliant on one player to set up their attacking thrusts, with good mate Lukosius — who drove him to his scans — now likely to have an even bigger role after being thrown forward over summer.

Bookmark this page for all club pre-season injury news and SuperCoach updates.

Originally published as AFL injury news: Sam Walsh will miss the first month of the season after injuring his ankle