PROMISING Geelong forward Lincoln McCarthy could face surgery to repair a navicular injury.
A decision on the best course of action will be made in the next fortnight after he completes consultations with specialists.
The 21-year-old was in a moon boot around Christmas to settle cartilage that had flared up in his left foot over Christmas but it is the recurrence of the navicular problem that forced him to miss 2013 that is of concern.
Geelong football manager Steve Hocking said McCarthy's cartilage had settled but confirmed the original injury had flared again.
He said no decisions had yet being made on the best way to treat it.
"(It's) disappointing for him but we'll just work through it and get the best advice possible and make some decisions from there as to what is the best course of action," Hocking told AFL.com.au.
"More importantly for us it is really about his long-term wellbeing. That is the important part at this stage."
McCarthy has played just five senior games since being drafted in 2011 and has been bedevilled by foot and back problems.
The talented half-forward played in the Cats' semi-final loss to North Melbourne and it was hoped he would have the chance to play consistent football in 2015.
Hocking said it was a long-term problem so the club was determined to canvass all options to ensure it reached the right decision.
Obviously it was not possible to determine how much football he may be forced to miss until a decision is made on how it is treated.
In better news for the club, recruit Rhys Stanley is back running after a hot spot was detected in his tibia.
The club was relieved to find the source of his soreness early and wound back the 24-year-old's training for the past month.
Scans last week gave Stanley the all-clear to resume running but Hocking said the former Saint was unlikely to run out in Cats’ colours until the later rounds of the NAB Challenge.
"As long as things progress the way we think they will over the next couple of weeks (then) certainly (at) the back end of the NAB Challenge he will be involved," Hocking said.