ESSENDON has suffered a blow with important forward Orazio Fantasia ruled out of round one through a knee injury.
The Bombers had been hopeful of the speedy goalkicker returning to feature in this Sunday's JLT Community Series clash with Geelong.
However, after dealing with the knee problem through the pre-season, Fantasia underwent surgery on Thursday and will not face Adelaide in the Bombers' opening round clash.
"Orazio has recently had ITB friction that has been causing him knee pain and had a procedure today to address it," said the club's high performance manager Justin Crow.
"The intervention went to plan and following these procedures players usually take 3-4 weeks to recover."
Fantasia had a breakout season in 2017, kicking 39 goals from 20 games. He missed several weeks with a hamstring injury late in the season before returning for the Bombers' elimination final loss to Sydney.
His absence is a setback for Essendon, given they will also be missing the pacy Travis Colyer through injury in the early part of the season.