REIGNING Morris medallist Joel Mackie is facing a race against time to be fit for the start of the Ovens and Murray season after being diagnosed with stress fractures in his left foot.
Mackie had scans last week and will have to wear a moon boot as part of his recovery.
The tough midfielder said he was unlikely to play any preseason matches but was hopeful of being fit for the Tigers’ season opener under lights against Lavington on Good Friday.
“I had an MRI and CT scan last week,” Mackie said.
“The CT ruled out a fractured bone but I have got a stress fracture.
“The specialist was confident that we found it early enough and it’s up to me now to do everything right.
“I have to wear a moon boot for a few weeks and then hopefully I will be able to start running again.”
The Tigers travel to Canberra this weekend to take on Eastlakes in their first preseason match, then host Essendon and District league side Keilor at Wodonga Secondary College, and Shepparton Bears at Birallee Park.
“My main focus is to do everything that I have to do to be right for round 1,” Mackie said.
“If it’s not right by round one I will take a cautious approach because it’s the type of injury that if you don’t allow it to heal properly it can sideline you for a long period.”
Mackie enjoyed an outstanding season last year to not only claim the Morris Medal but also his first best-and-fairest award at the sportsground.
The triple premiership player also captained NSW-ACT at the national championships in July.
He earned All-Australian honours after a stellar carnival at Wagga and was named vice-captain of the team.
The star midfielder also won The Border Mail-JohnsonsMME Footballer of the Year award.
Mackie was heavily targeted in the off-season by at least one rival Ovens and Murray club but will remain a Tiger for a fifth consecutive season.