Fremantle defender Alex Pearce underwent another round of surgery on his left ankle on Thursday, putting in doubt his availability for the start of the AFL season.
Pearce fractured his ankle in round 11, but was forced to go under the knife again this week after the specialist deemed it best for his recovery.
The Dockers hope Pearce will be able to return to training in late February, but he now faces an uphill battle to be fit for the start of the AFL season.
Pearce has a history of fractures.
The 24-year-old broke his leg twice early in his career, and then suffered his recent ankle fracture in innocuous fashion while kicking the ball out of defence.
Pearce was in All-Australian form last season before injuring his ankle.
Australian Associated Press