AN EMOTIONAL Jon Patton will spend the next month on the sidelines after scans revealed a strain in his right hamstring.
The big forward, who crossed from Greater Western Sydney to Hawthorn in the off-season, hobbled from the ground shortly after attempting a sliding chest mark in the opening quarter on Friday night.
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Injury has savaged Patton's career, including him fighting back from three knee reconstructions, the last of them on his left leg causing him to miss all of last season and the end of 2018.
Patton was sobbing on the bench after leaving the field, which sparked fears he might have suffered another serious setback.
Hawks football boss Graham Wright was initially optimistic about Patton's prognosis – saying he might miss only one or two weeks – but the injury was worse than he thought.
"Obviously, this news is really disappointing for Jon and the club," Wright said.
"His frustration and emotion was evident on Friday night, so you can see how much this means to him.
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"The positive news is that we should see Jon back on the park in a month and he'll undertake his recovery with the support of the club, as we continue in the hub environment.
"We're confident that he will do all the right things in his recovery to ensure we see him back out there as soon as possible."
Coach Alastair Clarkson, speaking post-game, could understand Patton's emotion in the immediate aftermath of his injury.
"I think there's empathy in the whole football world for someone that's had as much injury as what he has," Clarkson said.
"He's trying to get his career back on track, having had three knee reconstructions over the journey.
"He's a highly touted draft pick and he's had some adversity but that's not uncommon in our game – it's a tough game.
"He's got another challenge to overcome now and it's disappointing for him, it's a setback but it's not insurmountable. He'll return. But just from his point of view, it's just so stop-start."
Patton kicked three goals across his first three appearances for Hawthorn before missing the past fortnight with a sore foot that became infected.
He was the No.1 pick in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft and kicked 130 goals in 89 games for the Giants.