HOWLONG star Steve Jolliffe’s Azzi medal chances have taken a hit with the midfielder suffering a compound fracture of his middle finger.
Jolliffe underwent surgery earlier this week and is only an outside chance of playing again this season.
The former Wodonga Raiders player said he hadn’t totally given up hope of playing in round 18.
“It’s disappointing,” Jolliffe said.
“I’m loving playing footy again and hopefully I can get lucky and be back for the final round after they take the stitching out.
“I’ll see how it comes up.
“I just went up for a marking contest and when I came down my finger went straight into the ground and popped.
“Blood started dripping out and it wasn’t pretty.”
Jolliffe joined Howlong from Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka this season and made an immediate impact for the seventh-placed Spiders.
He played the opening 15 rounds before being injured in the first term of last weekend’s clash at Holbrook.
“I went out to Howlong after a pretty down season last year to be honest,” he said.
“It’s more relaxed and easier with the family as well training twice a week.
“We haven’t had the greatest year with injuries but we’ve come back pretty strong and are around the mark.”
While many Hume league pundits believe Jolliffe is a good chance of becoming Howlong’s first Azzi medallist since ruckman Peter Hancock in 2016, the ball-magnet was quick to play down his prospects.
“I’m certainly not talking it up,” he said.
“I probably don’t deserve it.
“We probably haven’t won enough games to be honest and you don’t know what the umpires are seeing each week.
“Missing a few games now won’t help either.”
Jolliffe has only been out of Howlong’s best players on four occasions this season including last weekend when he played about 10 minutes.
Henty’s Daniel and Dale Cox, Holbrook’s Sam Harris, Rand-Walbundrie-Walla’s Chris Duck and Brock-Burrum’s Ron Boulton are also set to poll well in the Azzi medal.