WANGARATTA Rovers have suffered a telling blow, with versatile defender Marcus Panozzo ruled out for the season with injury.
The 21-year-old’s career hangs in the balance, with an infection causing bone damage to his reconstructed left shoulder and sidelining him indefinitely.
Panozzo, who is receiving antibiotics for the infection, said he didn’t know if he would return to the field.
“I definitely won’t be playing this year,” Panozzo said yesterday.
“I’m not really looking at playing in the foreseeable future.
“They have to get on top of this infection.
“They don’t exactly know how long I have had the infection.
“I would never have thought at the end of last season that it would be this bad.”
Panozzo missed the 2011 season as he recovered from the reconstruction.
He jarred the shoulder in the qualifying final win against Albury at Birallee Park last year but played with pain in the second semi-final loss to Yarrawonga at Norm Minns Oval and the preliminary final defeat to the Tigers at Bunton Park.
Panozzo said scans after the qualifying final had revealed significant damage.
“I had scans after the dislocation in the first final and it showed a fair bit of damage,” Panozzo said.
“There looks like there has been some sort of infection that’s been eating away at the bone.
“It’s been bubbling away for a while.
“It’s not looking great at the moment.
“We’ve got to get rid of this infection first before we fix it up.
“There is quite a bit of damage there.”
Panozzo fears further surgery may be required on the shoulder.
He said he would use the year off to concentrate on his studies in Melbourne.
“This year I might look at taking a bit of a break from everything and focusing on uni,” Panozzo said.
“I’ve had a lot of time off in the last couple of years.”
The underrated backman was a key part of the Hawks’ defence last season, playing 21 games in a breakout season.
His absence will put pressure on the likes of Tyson Hartwig, Ben Kneebone, Lachie Raven and Ross Hill to perform.