Western Bulldogs ironman Dale Morris needs knee surgery, sparking speculation about the 35-year-old premiership defender's AFL future.
One of the league's toughest players, Morris added to his lofty reputation when he returned to the senior side in round 11 just four months after suffering a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The Bulldogs stress Tuesday's operation is a minor arthroscopy to fix meniscus damage in the same knee.
While they also said it is unrelated to the ACL injury, they are unsure how long it will put the veteran out of action until after the operation.
His age and the fact he has suffered more damage to the right knee are bad signs for Morris.
But Morris has a proven ability to cope with injury - he played in the historic 2016 grand final win over Sydney despite cracked vertebrae in his back.
"Dale has been dealing with some soreness in his knee, which he has been managing for the last couple of weeks and is unrelated to the ACL injury," club medical services manager Chris Bell said in a statement.
"We're not expecting him to be unavailable for an extended period, but we won't have an exact time frame for his recovery until after the surgery."
Morris has played 242 games for the Bulldogs since his 2005 AFL debut.
He had returned to the AFL in round 11 after two VFL matches.
Morris did not undergo any surgery after February's partial ACL tear.
Before news of Tuesday's operation, there had been speculation he would play for the Bulldogs again next season.