YOUNG defender Sarah Lampard will need major knee surgery in a disappointing postscript to Melbourne's NAB AFLW season.
Scans confirmed Lampard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the right knee in the opening quarter of Saturday night's shattering two-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.
The Demons will now have three key players in rehab from knee operations during winter after the team again fell agonisingly short of a Grand Final berth.
Vice-captain Mel Hickey had reconstruction surgery last week after injuring her left knee in the round six win against Carlton. And young forward Ainslie Kemp missed the entire home and away season after rupturing her right ACL in a pre-season training accident.
The worst possible news from the medical specialists today ends a dismal 2018 season for Lampard.
One of 17 Melbourne players to play every game in the inaugural AFLW season, she became a victim of the knee curse in her first game this season.
The unlucky 20-year-old had just recovered from a severe hamstring injury in a practice match against Collingwood in January that sidelined her for the first six rounds. And she lasted only half a quarter in her comeback match against the Bulldogs.
"Obviously I'm devastated about the outcome, but I'm sure I'll come out the other side a better person for it," she said.
"Fortunately, I've got a great support crew behind me. The entire family at Melbourne, from players to staff, have been incredible already with their positivity and support during my recent stint in rehab, with my hamstring - and I know they'll be there during this next phase."
"Melissa and Ainslie and I will be able to support and challenge each other during our rehab to get the best out of ourselves and return stronger in 2019."