Gun Western Bulldogs recruit Liam Jones’s AFL season is on the brink after the defender was ruled out for up to 10 weeks following surgery on a broken arm.
Jones suffered a fractured radius in the opening stages of Sunday’s win over North Melbourne when he received an accidental kick from Kangaroo Paul Curtis while trying to gather a loose ball.
The 32-year-old was in stellar form and crucial to the seventh-placed Bulldogs’ undermanned defence, with his absence a major blow to their finals hopes.
“Liam received a kick to his forearm – this trauma has caused two separate breaks in the radius bone,” Bulldogs’ sports medicine boss Chris Bell said.
“He had surgery yesterday to insert a large plate along his forearm to stabilise both fractures.
“We will confirm his return-to-play timeline over the coming weeks, but expect him to miss the next eight to 10 games.”
Jones’ absence has been compounded by serious hamstring injuries to fellow backs Tim O’Brien and Hayden Crozier, who will miss up to nine and 10 games respectively.
Dashing flanker Jason Johannisen (hamstring) is still four or five weeks away, while fellow hamstrung defender Ed Richards won’t return for at least three weeks.
The seventh-placed Bulldogs have the bye then, nine games out of finals, with Jones unlikely to return until late in the home-and-away season at best.
Jones was at Carlton when he retired in November 2021 because of the AFL’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.
He missed last season but came out of retirement to join the Bulldogs when the league’s policy was relaxed.
He has slotted into the Bulldogs’ defence seamlessly, pulling off shutdown roles while remaining a dangerous interceptor.
Young gun Sam Darcy could return after the bye and face Fremantle on July 1.
Gold Coast will be without versatile tall Joel Jeffrey for the next six to eight weeks after he suffered a stress reaction in his foot during the loss to Carlton.
But Lachie Weller is on track to return for Sunday’s clash with Hawthorn after recovering from swelling in his knee.
The Hawks could welcome back Changkuoth Jiath (calf) and Sam Frost (foot).
West Coast will be boosted by the returns of Jeremy McGovern (hamstring), Liam Duggan (leg infection) and Tom Barrass (hip) for Saturday’s clash with Sydney at the SCG.
Geelong could welcome back ruckman Rhys Stanley (fractured eye socket) for Thursday’s clash with the Demons, while Tanner Bruhn (shoulder) and Oisin Mullin (adductor) will also be available for selection.
At St Kilda, Dan McKenzie, Jack Billings and Zak Jones are all set to make their long-awaited returns via the VFL this week.
McKenzie, who was grounded during the pre-season with a calf injury, hasn’t featured at senior level since round 13 last year.
Jones missed the start of the season with an Achilles injury and his hopes of a return were further stalled by a quad injury.
But the 28-year-old is finally injury free and will line up for Sandringham against Brisbane on Saturday morning.
Jones and McKenzie will be joined in the side by Billings, who has overcome his hamstring injury.
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