BRISBANE has suffered a major blow ahead of Saturday night's preliminary final against Geelong losing defender Darcy Gardiner to injury.

As revealed by AFL.com.au, Gardiner injured his knee during the Lions' main session this week and had been restricted to light duties in the hope of proving his fitness.

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However, he has failed to recover and will be replaced by four-game defender Jack Payne.

The Cats will go in unchanged from the side that smashed Collingwood in last week's semi-final against Collingwood.

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Gardiner had been touted to play on Patrick Dangerfield when playing in attack after the Cats superstar booted four goals last week against the Pies.

Those duties will now likely be shared between Payne, Ryan Lester and Brandon Starcevich with Harris Andrews tipped to again tackle Tom Hawkins.

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Payne, 21, debuted in round 10 and managed four games this season. His last came in round 18 when he replaced Andrews who missed with a hamstring injury.

The change will be the Lions' second from the qualifying final win over Richmond after Cam Ellis-Yolmen came in for Keidean Coleman at selection on Friday night.