GOLD COAST is likely to be without its first pick Alana Gee for the upcoming AFLW season.
In a significant blow for the Suns, it's understood the highly talented Gee has been battling a stress reaction in her back since reporting for pre-season training and is expected to be sidelined long-term.
Gee was the first Queensland-based player selected in last month's NAB AFLW Draft, selected to Gold Coast with pick No.19. However, recruiters believe the teenage midfielder would have gone top-10 in a national pool.
The dynamic onballer was viewed as a ready-made prospect for a rebuilding Gold Coast outfit, with the club initially touting her potential to play in the side's round one bout with North Melbourne on August 27.
The Suns will already be without important defender Jade Pregelj for the upcoming season due to a knee injury, with Gee's setback potentially leaving the club with the ability to call upon another replacement player before the campaign.
Gold Coast finished last season with a 3-6-1 record, but had a busy off-season that was capped with the recruitment of Gee and Carlton's leading goalkicker from last year Courtney Jones.
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However, the club lost a series of important players – including captain Hannah Dunn, along with Cheyenne Hammond, Brittany Perry, Kate Surman and Jacqui Yorston – to expansion side Port Adelaide.
The Suns took three top-four picks from the Queensland portion of June's national draft, recruiting Gee along with inside midfielder Claire Ransom (pick No.34) and forward Jasmyn Smith (pick No.52).