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Body blow: Blues star sidelined for 12 weeks with back injury

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: Patrick Cripps of the Blues looks dejected after a loss during the 2016 AFL Round 16 match between the Carlton Blues and the Adelaide Crows at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 10, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Patrick Cripps will miss up to 12 weeks of pre-season with a back injury

YOUNG Carlton star Patrick Cripps will be sidelined for up to 12 weeks after suffering a stress reaction in his lower back.

The 21-year-old experienced discomfort during Wednesday's training session and scans on Thursday revealed the injury.

Carlton's head of football Andrew McKay confirmed the bad news.

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"While the news is disappointing, the positive is we have diagnosed the condition early, minimising his time on the sidelines," McKay said.

"Given his professionalism and determination, we are confident Patrick will be ready for the 2017 pre-season competition."

After playing just three games in his first season, 2014, Cripps has played 41 of the next 44 over the past two seasons.

He won the John Nicholls Medal as Carlton's best and fairest in 2015, and backed up with a third place in last year's count, averaging 27 disposals, 17 of them contested.

Cripps' young teammate Harry McKay suffered a similar injury in March last year, before returning in late June for the Northern Blues in the VFL. 

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