Due some good news, Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has welcomed back vice-captain Pearce Hanley for Sunday’s AFL clash with Greater Western Sydney.
But Brisbane’s injury woes don’t show any sign of letting up following confirmation on Thursday that exciting midfielder Claye Beams has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Back from career-saving pre-season hip surgery, Hanley would usually be eased through the reserves.
However, Leppitsch does not have that luxury with 10 of his top 22 sidelined, including the unlucky Beams.
Beams went under the knife on Wednesday night after damaging the same knee that was reconstructed in 2013.
Leppitsch admitted Hanley was close to returning last round after training strongly in recent weeks.
“Realistically it will be like his first pre-season game,” he said of Hanley.
“He will be right to play. It’s just the tempo that will be the adjustment for him.
“We just think the gap between playing seniors and reserves for a guy that’s played nearly 100 games is minimal.”
Beams – brother of former Collingwood premiership player Dayne – had hoped to be sidelined for six weeks.
However, he won’t play again this year after surgery revealed more significant damage to his left knee.
“Unfortunately they’ve had to stitch his cartilage back together and that’s usually a 12 to 14 week injury,” Leppitsch said.
“So if you do the numbers, it probably means his season.”
Beams was one of six players injured in their last round loss to St Kilda.
Yet remarkably Beams played out the match with his knee strapped.
“Claye hasn’t been able to have any continuity in his career,” Leppitsch said.
“This one isn’t a killer, it’s just unfortunate the timing of it and the weeks he’ll miss.
“He’ll come back next year bigger and better.”
Beams’ bravery was one of many courageous tales that emerged when the dust settled on their 22-point loss.
Captain Tom Rockliff is out for six weeks after playing all but 10 minutes of the Saints clash with three broken ribs.
And young gun James Aish could be sidelined for a month after nursing a broken jaw throughout the second half.