SIDELINED Collingwood defender Tom Langdon has been forced to confront the possibility of retirement as he continues his battle with a degenerative knee cartilage injury.
Langdon, 25, last played in round nine, 2019, and has struggled to increase his training loads without causing inflammation to his knee.
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"[Retirement is] an option, absolutely. It's been a tough eight months to be honest, to wrap my head around that being an option. Being 25, young and reasonably healthy, that's been a hard reality to come to terms with," Langdon told Channel Seven on Tuesday night.
"It's something that definitely came out of the blue. You play in a Grand Final, and then eight games later the surgeon puts it to you that you might not be able to play again."
Coach Nathan Buckley told AFL.com.au in February: "The outcome there is still not clear on what his body is going to allow him to do.
"And, you know, when you've gone along the track – I think it is round eight [it was round nine] was the last game that he played – that's not been a short amount of time.
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"So we need a fair bit to go his way, but we're not giving up on it and neither is he, clearly, because he loves playing. He loves being involved in the group as well."
But on Wednesday Buckley said: "There's nowhere that's written that you need to play AFL football or that you need to run around as an elite footballer; it's not all of him, but it is a big part of him, and he's still trying to work towards the aspiration of getting back on the park.
"If his knee doesn't agree with that and if his body doesn't come to the party, it's pretty hard to do," he told Melbourne radio station SEN.
"He's been out on the track, he's done some runs over the last couple of weeks, but it's been problematic whenever we step up, it's inflamed and hasn't been able to take the next few steps. He's probably in as good a nick as he's been in that time.
"But when you look at the sheer amount of time that's passed, and the fact the cartilage doesn't regenerate, it's a degenerative injury. As I said, there's no guarantee anyone's going to have the opportunity to run out [and play in the AFL], so we appreciate whenever we do.
"'Langers' has been very mature about it, he's got a long-term perspective about what the rest of his life looks like as well. As he said last night, it's an option, but it's clearly not one he's prepared to concede at this point."