ST KILDA utility Ben Paton will miss the first couple of months of 2024 after suffering a nasty injury at training on Monday.
Scans have revealed a left pectoral tendon rupture that will require the Victorian to undergo surgery, most likely next week.
The 25-year-old will meet with a surgeon on Tuesday to assess the next course of action, but the Saints are bracing to be without the defender/wingman for at least three months.
Paton played 12 games under Ross Lyon last year after playing 20 games in 2022, following a season out of the game in 2021.
The Murray Bushrangers product didn't play at all that season after breaking his leg in two places during an intraclub game on the eve of the campaign.
Off-season recruit Paddy Dow is still at least a fortnight from returning to full fitness after injuring his knee at training late last month.
There were initial fears the former top-five pick had torn his ACL but scans confirmed no structural damage, with bone bruising expected to sideline him for up to a month.
Key forward Max King has returned to full training in the past fortnight following post-season shoulder surgery.
Small forward Dan Butler is running out of time to prove his fitness after ankle surgery, ahead of St Kilda's opener against Geelong on March 16.