YOUNG North Melbourne forward Taylor Garner has been ruled out for six weeks with a fractured thumb he suffered while playing in the VFL.
The 21-year-old sustained the injury on Saturday for North Ballarat in its game against Geelong at Simonds Stadium, and comes just weeks after the first-round draft pick returned from a long injury spell.
"It's unfortunate for Taylor given the fact he'd just made a comeback from a lengthy stint on the sidelines with various hamstring and hip complications," football manager Geoff Walsh told the club's website.
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"Despite the setback, he's in really good spirits and has remained upbeat and positive."
Garner, who played two games for North Melbourne at the end of 2013, last represented the Roos at senior level during the 2014 NAB Challenge series before going down with a hamstring injury. But what was hoped to be a minor setback saw him miss the whole season as he battled ongoing hamstring and hip complaints.
He returned to VFL action in May, but in just his third game back has again been sidelined by the knock to his thumb.
Walsh said the injury had some similarities to the one suffered by Roos skipper Andrew Swallow, but the club expects Garner to miss longer than the two weeks Swallow was out.
"It's pretty much in the same spot as Andrew's thumb injury, but it's more complex which means it will take a lot more time to heal," Walsh said.
"We anticipate a recovery period of four to six weeks, but the good thing is Taylor can continue his conditioning work and further improve in other areas in the gym."