HAWTHORN has been dealt another injury blow ahead of the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season with star forward Jack Gunston already ruled out of the early rounds.
Gunston has just had back surgery to deal with a bulging disk complaint and the club's football manager Graham Wright has revealed the B&F winner will be sidelined for 4-5 months.
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Hawthorn is already making plans to be without gun defender James Sicily for 2021 after he suffered an ACL injury in round 12.
"Jack has had some issues with his back in recent years and we've been able to manage it conservatively, recently, however, it hasn't settled, and in consultation with Jack, our doctors, and his surgeon, we believe surgery is in his best interest going forward," Wright told hawthornfc.com.au.
"Recovery for this type of surgery is usually around 4-5 months and it's important not to rush it.
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"While it is disappointing that Jack will miss the start of the season, we won't take any unnecessary risks and we look forward to seeing him back on the field early in the season."
Gunston was a shining light in a difficult 2020 for the Hawks, winning the club's goalkicking for a third time with 31 (joint third overall in the AFL). He was also the only Hawk to make the All-Australian squad of 40.
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Hawthorn will also be monitoring closely another key forward over the summer, former No.1 pick Jon Patton.
Patton has had an injury-cursed career since being drafted by Greater Western Sydney in 2011 and tore his plantaris tendon in his right leg above his Achilles tendon at the end of August.
He did not play again in 2020 but the club was hopeful the injury was not significant. That followed a hamstring injury sustained in July which ruled out the 27-year-old for six weeks.