MELBOURNE defender Jake Lever will miss the remainder of the season after scans confirmed the high-profile recruit ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the Demons' win on Saturday.
Lever limped from the field following a seemingly innocuous incident during the first term of the 49-point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
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The 22-year-old, who crossed to Melbourne from Adelaide at the end of 2017, hurt his knee when he pushed off Marcus Bontempelli and quickly changed direction as the two went for the ball.
After a sluggish start to the year, Lever has been in sublime form of late, and his absence will test Melbourne's defensive depth as it looks to make the finals for the first time since 2006.
General manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said it's a bitter blow to lose Lever – one of the game's best intercept defenders.
"It is disappointing news that Jake will miss the rest of the 2018 season," Mahoney said.
"After finding his feet early on, Jake has displayed the type of form we recruited him for – he has been an integral part of our team's recent winning form.
"Although we will be without Jake for the rest of the season, his absence creates an opportunity for another defender to come in to the team, we look forward to Jake returning fully fit for our 2019 season."
Not the result we are after but I just wanted to thank everyone who reached out to me, appreciate all the support. My family, friends & teammates support have been overwhelming over the past 24 hours & I can’t thank them enough. I will make sure I come back bigger and better than before and I understand that I have the best team around me to get through this. I have always believed things happen for a reason, so I will make sure I get everything positive I can out of this. Also for all those who tell me constantly about my sausage arms, maybe I might come back as big as @glenjakovich did after his Op!