CARLTON star forward Charlie Curnow faces a delayed start to pre-season after injuring his troublesome right knee playing basketball during the week.
Curnow will head for surgery on Monday, with the club expecting him to resume running by Christmas.
The Blues remain hopeful their gun young prospect will be fit for round one, 2020.
The 22-year-old was absent from the club's best and fairest on Friday night after suffering a dislocated right knee while playing basketball with teammates in a casual, non-competitive environment earlier in the week.
Carlton's head of football, Brad Lloyd, said despite the prospect of an interrupted pre-season, surgery was the best option for Curnow.
"We are confident surgery will be the right course of action to allow him to recover fully," Lloyd said.
"We expect he will be back running prior to Christmas as he prepares for the start of the 2020 season.
"While Charlie is really disappointed, he is determined to attack his rehab and do everything he possibly can to get back to his best and help his teammates achieve success next year."
Charlie Curnow clutches his knee after injuring it in round 15. Picture: AFL Photos
Curnow twice injured his knee during the 2019 season, first missing three matches after the first setback in March.
He then re-injured it in June and missed the final seven games of the season.
- with Riley Beveridge