ESSENDON captain Dyson Heppell has suffered another major injury setback, this time sustaining a fractured ankle that will require surgery.
Just five days after returning to play his first game of 2020 following a serious foot injury, Heppell limped off the training track on Friday morning after a tackle gone wrong.
He will head under the knife in coming days and miss a significant chunk of the remainder of the season.
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"Unfortunately, Dyson sustained the injury when tackled towards the end of our training session on Friday morning," Essendon general manager of football Dan Richardson said.
"It's an unrelated injury to his foot, but we immediately had the area scanned which identified a fracture in the left ankle.
"It's very disappointing for both Dyson and the club. Currently, it is difficult to put a timeframe on a return prior to him having surgery, but we remain hopeful he will return to the field this season."
Heppell required multiple surgeries in the off-season on a foot injury he carried through the second half of 2019.
After a delayed start to pre-season he proved his fitness in order to feature in last week's win over Sydney.
The Bombers will confirm their line-up for Sunday's date with Melbourne later on Friday, with Patrick Ambrose, Orazio Fantasia, Brayden Ham and Conor McKenna added to the squad on Thursday.