CARLTON defender Liam Stocker is expected to be sidelined for 12 weeks with a medium-grade syndesmosis injury.
The 21-year-old suffered the injury after his ankle was caught in a tackle at training, with scans confirming surgery will be the most effective approach for recovery.
Carlton's football boss Brad Lloyd said the club would continue to monitor Stocker's rehabilitation over the coming months.
"It's disappointing news for Liam but these experiences are part of footy and we know with his tremendous work ethic, he will throw everything into his rehabilitation over this next period," Lloyd said.
"Our AFL side is about to commence the three-week break over Christmas, so that will give Liam time to start his recovery from surgery."
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It's a body blow for Stocker who is coming off his most productive season with the Blues since he was controversially drafted in 2018 with pick No.19.
Stocker played 17 games in 2021 to take his career tally to 22.
He finished the season strongly, too, with a 23-disposal game in Carlton's narrow R23 loss to Greater Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium.
At the moment it is unclear if he will be able to to take part in the early pre-season matches.
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"We'll assess his progress over the next few months and will have a clearer indication on when he will be available to play as we get close to the start of the season," Lloyd said.