TWO OF GREATER Western Sydney's best runners are in a race for round one after suffering significant injuries at training, while Carlton's Serena Gibbs has chosen to sit out the 2022 NAB AFLW season due to mental health.
Senior leader Nicola Barr has injured her shoulder, while Tarni Evans is facing six weeks in a moon boot with a stress fracture.
Barr's shoulder injury is significant enough that surgery would have ruled her out for the NAB AFLW season, with the club instead opting for "an extensive rehabilitation program."
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The half-back has struggled to string together a full season recently, missing seven of a possible 23 games in the past three years due to hamstring and finger issues.
Evans, 19, played seven of nine games in her debut season, and the versatile product returned to pre-season in excellent condition, taking out the club's time trial.
She is aiming to return early in the 10-round season, with her full recovery forecast to take 12-14 weeks.
"Both players will work closely with the club’s medical staff over the coming months in order to return to full fitness as soon as possible," the Giants said.
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GWS has had a tumultuous start to its pre-season, having lost youngster Isadora McLeay to a torn ACL.
McLeay herself was a replacement player for the pregnant Emily Goodsir, and Ally Dallaway has now been drafted into the squad to replace the former.
Gibbs, 21, looked set to take the key forward role left vacant by Tayla Harris at the Blues, but has chosen to take time away from the game.
"Serena is loved at our club and as much as we want her to remain part of our program, football is not everything – the personal health of our players will always be the number one priority," Carlton head of women's footy Brett Munro said.
"We admire Serena for placing her health first and will continue to support her in any way we can."
The Blues drafted mature-age key forward Imogen Milford from Casey Demons this year, as well as former basketballer and ruck Jess Good from Sturt, and also have the option of replacing Gibbs as an inactive player.
Womens.afl understands at this stage, the AFL is aiming to release the AFLW fixture in mid-to-late November, with the league having already forecast round one to begin the weekend of January 6.
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