LUCKLESS Fremantle key defender Alex Pearce will miss the rest of the season after scans confirmed a fractured left ankle suffered in Saturday's thrilling win over Collingwood.
Meanwhile, hard-running rookie Stefan Giro's 2019 is also over after he went down with a ruptured ACL while playing in Peel's loss to Subiaco in the WAFL on Sunday.
Pearce's injury is a shattering blow only 32 games after his long-awaited comeback from a twice broken right leg.
The Tasmanian tall, who has been in All Australian contention this year, was sidelined for 672 days after going down against Richmond in round nine, 2016 until he returned in round one last year.
Pearce, who turns 24 next week, only notched his 50th appearance a month ago against the Tigers.
He told AFL.com.au he feared his career might be taken from him while at his lowest ebb during rehab.
General manager of football Peter Bell said Pearce, who fractured his ankle in a seemingly innocuous incident while kicking against Collingwood, had been "virtually trouble free" since his return.
"While it is frustrating for Alex, we know how incredibly resilient and diligent he has proven to be in the past when it comes to recovering from a long-term injury," Bell said.
"We are confident that Alex will tackle this latest setback with the same level of determination and drive, so he can be back playing as soon as possible."
Pearce's injury follows the year-ending broken foot suffered by full-forward Matt Taberner recently.
It could open the door for forgotten defender Griffin Logue to play his first game since round 22, 2017 after foot, ankle and hamstring woes when Freo returns from the bye against Port Adelaide.
Logue has played four games for Peel after soft-tissue setbacks derailed what had been a promising summer.
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Brennan Cox, who has struggled up forward and booted two goals and averaged eight disposals in the past four games, could also be shifted to defence, potentially sending Rory Lobb to the forward line and providing ruckman Sean Darcy with an avenue back into the team.
Giro, who played 10 games in his debut campaign last year and is signed until 2021, went down after picking up 18 touches for Peel.
"Stefan’s injury is obviously a longer-term prospect and will require a yet to be determined recovery period following surgery," Bell said.
The Dockers are 6-5 after two nailbiting wins over top-eight sides Collingwood and Brisbane and expect reinforcements to arrive soon with Stephen Hill and Harley Bennell closing in on comebacks.
Hill will resume playing after the bye, almost certainly at Peel, after frustrating quad issues and Bennell has been in sensational form as he attempts to revive his stalled career.
The former Sun picked up 25 touches – 12 in the first term – on Sunday, after returning from more calf dramas with a bang by gathering 30 disposals and booting two goals the previous weekend.
Veteran forward Hayden Ballantyne kicked three goals for Peel in his return after repeat hamstring setbacks.
Bennell won't have another opportunity to push his case this weekend due to Peel's bye, but is closing in on adding to his two games in purple – which came in rounds 22 and 23 two years ago.