NORTH Melbourne ruckman Tristan Xerri will undergo facial surgery on Wednesday following an incident in match simulation.
The 24-year-old copped a blow to the face during training at La Trobe University last Friday and will go under the knife to have a plate inserted.
Xerri won't miss much running despite the setback, but his return to full contact training is dependent on how quickly his face heals.
With veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein moving to Essendon last October after playing 315 games across 16 seasons at Arden Street, Xerri is set to grasp the No.1 ruck mantle on a permanent basis in 2024 after injuries limited him last season.
Xerri went past Goldstein last summer and was picked ahead of the 35-year-old in round one before suffering a syndesmosis injury against West Coast that ruled him out until round 17.
The Victorian played the final eight games of the season and looms as one of Alastair Clarkson's most important players this year, given the lack of readymade ruckmen at the club.
With less than a month until the Kangaroos' opening practice match against Collingwood on February 21, ahead of a final tune-up against St Kilda on March 3, North Melbourne will be hoping Xerri can recover quickly and bank some minutes ahead of the season.
Untried young gun Brayden George has transitioned back into full training after enduring a challenging first 12 months at North Melbourne.
The 2022 pick No.26 missed all of 2023 while recovering from a knee reconstruction, before requiring surgery to repair a dislocated elbow he suffered in an off-season training incident in Wangaratta last October.
George has made an impression this month and could push for an early-season debut if his track form continues along this upward trajectory.
Recruit Zac Fisher is currently confined to a modified program after suffering hamstring awareness last week at training.
The West Australian moved from Carlton during the trade period after playing 107 games for the Blues.