NORTH Melbourne's former top-three pick Will Phillips will not play an AFL game this season, having been ruled out for the remainder of the year as he continues to battle the lingering effects of glandular fever.
AFL.com.au revealed in March that Phillips would miss an indefinite period after developing a bout of glandular fever, which had followed a COVID-19 diagnosis from earlier in the season.
Having not yet returned to senior action after three VFL appearances, Phillips has since been ruled out for the remainder of the year after a second bout of the illness in what is a bitter blow for the impressive young midfielder.
"It’s been a very disappointing year for Will. After a really good pre-season, Will had his sights firmly set on taking his game to the next level in 2022," Kangaroos football boss Dan McPherson said in a statement.
"Will is a fantastic young man whose maturity and perspective on life has helped him deal with his current situation so well. Frustratingly, for both Will and the club, he just hasn’t been able to shake the lingering effects of glandular fever.
"We think it’s best to take the expectation off him for the rest of the year and allow him to focus on his recovery as he builds towards 2023."
Phillips was recruited to North Melbourne with pick No.3 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft, enjoying a solid maiden season at Arden Street where he played 16 senior games including two as an unused substitute.
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"It's been pretty tough and frustrating. I've just tried to stay in the present as much as possible and look forward to hopefully what is a long career," Phillips said.
"I've got to stay patient and believe that in the long-term I'll be okay. I'm doing everything I can to get myself healthy again, get to the point where I can run and perform exercises in the gym and go again for a big pre-season.
"I'll be hungrier than ever to get back into things having missed a lot of games this year."