Key Fremantle forward Jesse Hogan will require season-ending foot surgery after suffering a recurrence of a worrying navicular injury.
Hogan arrived at Fremantle at the end of 2018 nursing a fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot.
The 24-year-old then suffered what Fremantle initially thought was a minor foot sprain in the round 14 loss to Melbourne last month.
Initial scans cleared him of any damage to the navicular bone, but more investigation was conducted after Hogan struggled to overcome the injury.
Those follow-up scans have revealed a more worrying prognosis - another dreaded fracture in his navicular.
Hogan consulted a specialist in Melbourne on Friday, where it was decided that surgery is the best option.
The star spearhead is expected to be sidelined for about 16 weeks.
Navicular bones can be notoriously tricky to heal, and the fact Hogan has now suffered the injury twice would be a major concern to the Dockers.
"Based on medical advice we are confident that, with a cautiously mapped out rehabilitation program, Jesse should be available in round one of the 2020 season," Fremantle football operations manager Peter Bell said.
"In the meantime, we will wrap our arms around Jesse and provide all the necessary support required for him to successfully complete the rehabilitation phase."
Hogan's absence has coincided with a worrying form slump for Fremantle.
The Dockers have lost four straight games to slip to 13th, and the loss of Hogan for the season will be a major blow to morale.
"Jesse was important for our forward structure early in the season and he was really starting to hit his straps and gel with our restructured forward line," Bell said.