NORTH Melbourne has ruled wingman Jared Polec out for the remainder of the season after he failed to recover from an ongoing ankle injury that has plagued another frustrating campaign.
Polec managed just two games this year after sustaining the ankle injury on the eve of the side's round one clash with Hawthorn, last featuring for the senior team in its loss to Brisbane on April 2.
The initial setback had stalled an excellent summer for the former Port Adelaide recruit, with recently departed coach David Noble saying back in March that he was "really proud" of the way in which Polec had tackled his return to pre-season.
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"I'm really proud of the way he's come back and the shape he's in. He's a really intelligent guy when it comes to football. We've asked him to take on some mentoring of some younger guys … and been really pleased with what he's done there," Noble said.
Polec, who is contracted for 2023, has now played just seven games in the last two seasons after falling out of favour last year. It resulted in him being delisted and placed on the team's rookie list for the current campaign.
North Melbourne is expected to regain Kayne Turner from the AFL's concussion protocols for Saturday's clash with Richmond, though, which will be interim coach Leigh Adams' first game in charge following the departure of Noble on Tuesday.
Jaidyn Stephenson is also a chance to feature, despite heading for scans earlier this week after he was substituted out of last Saturday's loss to Collingwood having copped a knock to his lower back and hip.
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"Jaidyn has progressed really well, especially in the last 24 hours. He'll be on a modified session at main training tomorrow and we hope he'll be available this weekend," the club's head of performance Kevin White said.
"He received a knee impact into his lower back and hip area early in the third quarter and, as the game progressed, he was really struggling with running function and change of direction.
"We obviously removed him from the game due to that lack of function, but he's recovering well at the moment."