NORTH Melbourne spearhead Ben Brown may have played his final game for the club, with the Roos ruling him out for the season with a persistent knee problem.
Teammate and promising forward Curtis Taylor also won't be seen again this year, because of his own knee issue.
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Brown will visit a specialist and may require an arthroscope after first hurting his left knee in a Mark Blicavs tackle against Geelong in round 10, his first match back after being dropped.
The 27-year-old hasn't played since, but appeared to be taking positive steps when he completed a running session on Saturday.
"Our medical and strength and conditioning teams have worked very closely with Ben and had progressed him into some light running," Kangaroos football boss Brady Rawlings said.
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"But (they) feel the best course of action going forward is to get a specialist's opinion and have the knee fixed up, if required.
"With only three games to go until the end of the year for us; some players have simply run out of time to get their fitness back up to the levels required to play, and Ben is one of those."
Brown was the only player in the competition to kick 60 or more goals in each of the past three seasons, but he managed only eight majors in nine matches this year.
His manager, Adam Ramanauskas of TLA Australia, had initiated discussions with North about a new deal before the AFL placed a freeze on contracts when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the suspension of the season.
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Brown's form nosedived once the season resumed, and combined with the Roos' struggles and his age, there is genuine doubt about his future at Arden Street.
North Melbourne already has Nick Larkey developing in its forward line, drafted Charlie Comben last year and could swoop on West Australian sensation Logan McDonald with its top draft pick this year.
Taylor was amid a breakout season before his round nine left knee setback, and Kangaroos medicos have opted to play it cautiously with the 20-year-old's recovery.
"He's running at the moment – his straight-line stuff is OK – but to get up over the next two-to-three weeks we thought was going to be a bit of a push," Rawlings said.
"It wasn't a risk we're willing to take with such a highly-talented youngster."