Collingwood defender Nathan Brown will undergo season-ending surgery on his shoulder on Wednesday, leaving the club without a key defender for the match against St Kilda on Friday.
Coach Nathan Buckley confirmed the injury-prone defender would go under the knife after he dislocated his right shoulder during the eight-point win against West Coast last Saturday.
It's the same shoulder he dislocated in his comeback game against Sydney in round two.
Brown was taken to hospital after he suffered the injury midway through the first quarter on Saturday.
Brown is expected to be at least three months in recovery, although Buckley suspects he will attempt to "push the envelope" and try to get back on the field before the end of the season.
"It's really unfortunate for him," Buckley said. "That right shoulder has been giving him hassles over the past four or five years. He popped it in round two and played three games in the VFL and [that] gave him trouble."
Brown was forced to skip the 2011 season with serious knee injuries.
Buckley has been under pressure about several key players this week, including whether Brown's backline colleague, Jack Frost, will be fit in time for Friday's game after suffering a concussion, also against West Coast last week.
Frost suffered a knock to the head during the match, which resulted in nausea. He too will undergo tests on Wednesday.
"If he passes he plays, if he doesn't, he doesn't," Buckley said.
Adding to the club’s woes is ongoing speculation about Travis Cloke’s continuing form slump. The key forward has admitted that if he fails to take a mark or kick a goal early in the game, his confidence falls away.
Buckley refused to comment on Cloke’s form or whether the club expected an improvement in the near future. “There's just far too much focus on individuals at our football club, full stop. We're a football team.”
Buckley added that every player's a "confidence player". "It's how you react to it. We're really positive in our feedback to our players."
Top-eight placed Collingwood goes up against St Kilda on Thursday and despite its opposition being 16th on the ladder, Buckley refused to concede the uneven match would be an easy ride for his players.
“Their best football is very good. When they're up and about and bring that intensity, they're in total control; they're a handful,” he said, complimenting captain and forward Nick Riewoldt as “one of the most damaging spearheads in the competition”.
“They've got a really young midfield supported by some experienced hard heads in there. We're under no illusions St Kilda's best football is pretty good.”
"Former captain Nick Maxwell told radio station Sen 1116 that Lachlan Keeffe could step in for Brown.
"I'm really gutted for him but he's a quality kid and we know what sort of guy he is and he'll be back," Maxwell said of Brown.
Speaking at the AFL Player's Association launch of its development and well-being report, Buckley said there were some merits in discussing raising the draft age in an attempt to better prepare young players for the physical and mental demands of the game.