NORTH Melbourne youngster Charlie Comben faces a delayed start to the season after suffering a leg stress fracture.
Comben, 19, was ruled out for an indefinite period after scans revealed a tibial stress fracture in his right leg.
TRADE PERIOD VERDICT We rank your club from worst to best
The Kangaroos won't rush the second-year forward/ruck, who was selected at No.31 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft.
"It's a disappointing result for Charlie who has been working really hard to give himself the best opportunity this season," North's general manager of football Brady Rawlings said.
"We will take an extremely cautious approach to his rehabilitation with a view on his long-term career.
"Charlie has a lot of potential, he's a hard worker, has a great attitude and we see him being an important part of our team in the future.
"We're confident that Charlie's resilient character and meticulous approach to training will put him in the best position to return to full fitness."
Comben is one of few tall forward options remaining on the club's list after Mason Wood, Majak Daw and Ben Brown all left the club in the wake of a horror 2020 campaign.
WHO'S LEAVING? Your club's retirements and delistings
Nick Larkey looks set to carry much of the load as a key target in the forward 50, with assistance from the promising Tristan Xerri. The Roos will also be hoping veteran Jack Ziebell, Jy Simpkin, Taylor Garner and recruit Jaidyn Stephenson can produce as medium attacking options.