CHARLIE Curnow's latest round of surgery will add between 6-8 weeks to his original return date.
The Blues are now hopeful Curnow will resume running after Christmas following his latest setback, having deemed last Wednesday's surgery to correct a stress injury to the patella in his right knee a success.
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Curnow was originally expected to resume skill work when pre-season training returns for sixth-year players in January, but it's understood that stage of his recovery could be pushed back up to two months following his latest bout of surgery.
It puts his chances of a round one return in severe doubt, with the Blues expected to be ultra-cautious with Curnow's comeback following more than a year on the sidelines with continued knee injuries.
Carlton will instead wait to see how the 23-year-old reacts to his latest injury, before ramping up his rehabilitation program after the new year in the hope of a return to football in season 2021.
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Curnow's latest injury was yet another frustrating setback for one of the game's brightest young talents.
After missing the last eight games of the 2019 season with a medial complaint, Curnow dislocated his right knee while playing basketball with teammates the following summer and then fractured the same kneecap after slipping on tiles last November.
A hairline stress response to the same right knee, sustained in April, then ruled him out of the entire 2020 season before suffering his latest setback – a stress injury to the patella of his knee – last week.
Curnow had been impressing Blues officials with his recovery while with the team in their Queensland hub, but has since had his chances of an early-season return next year scuppered.
The imposing and athletic key forward remains one of the club's and the competition's most promising young players, having kicked 77 goals throughout the first 58 games of his AFL career.