ESSENDON ball-magnet Zach Merrett could miss two months after suffering an ankle syndesmosis injury in Saturday's loss to Brisbane.
The Bombers vice-captain had scans on Sunday, which revealed his injury was worse that hoped and will require surgery.
Essendon's football boss, Josh Mahoney, said Merrett would miss between six and eight weeks.
The news is better for teammate Nik Cox, who was carried off late with an ankle injury in the defeat against the Lions.
The second-year utility is still an outside chance to line up in Friday night's clash against reigning premier Melbourne at the MCG.
“We will look at surgery as an option for Zach but it is likely he will miss around six to eight weeks," Mahoney told the club's website on Sunday evening.
“Nik’s injury isn’t as severe so we will assess his recovery this week and give him the best chance to get up for our match against Melbourne.”
The absence of Merrett is a significant blow for the winless Bombers, who face the prospect of trying to record their first win of the 2022 season against the undefeated Demons.
Melbourne stars Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver have enjoyed strong starts to the season, with Petracca averaging almost 40 disposals a game across the first two rounds.