Luckless ruckman Sam Naismith will undergo a third knee reconstruction, ruining his hopes of returning for Sydney this AFL season.
Naismith has been restricted to two AFL games since the end of the 2017 season because of damage to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and ensuing complications.
The 28-year-old's playing future is now in fresh doubt, although this week's decision to go under the knife was made with a view to maximising his chances of returning to senior football.
Naismith is contracted until the end of 2022, with Swans football manager Charlie Gardiner noting the club "will do everything possible" to help him recover and return.
He is expected to spend 15-16 months on the sidelines before attempting another comeback.
Sydney players delighted in Naismith's recent VFL return, knowing their much-loved teammate's challenges in 2020 included the death of sister Kristi after her two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Naismith felt instability in his knee following his second VFL match.
Follow-up scans revealed the big man's ACL reconstruction in 2020 was unsuccessful because of graft failure.
The club sought opinions from multiple specialists before deciding Naismith should undergo a third ACL reconstruction.
"We are incredibly disappointed for Sam after all of the hard work he has put in," Gardiner said.
"He has left no stone unturned in his efforts to get back to play and after a largely uninterrupted rehabilitation program, we were all looking forward to seeing him return in the back half of the year.
"Unfortunately, due to this latest setback that won't be possible.
"However, we know Sam remains hungry and committed to getting back doing what he loves and we will do everything possible to help him achieve that."
Naismith's season-ending injury has heightened the importance of Tom Hickey's off-season arrival from West Coast.
Hickey has been a revelation at his fourth club, playing a central role in the Swans' 8-4 start that has them on track to return to finals after a two-year absence.
Hickey tore his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in round five but remarkably missed just one game, stunning Sydney's medicos by returning well ahead of schedule.