Carlton star Sam Walsh has been ruled out for the start of the 2023 AFL season after undergoing surgery on his back. 

The 22-year-old received a micro-discectomy procedure on Thursday night which involved the removal of a bulging disc portion to relieve pressure on a nerve.

Walsh notably missed the Blues’ final match of the home and away season following a late withdrawal, citing a back issue.

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Drafted by Carlton with the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, the midfielder picked up the Rising Star Award the following year.

His presence in centre of the park has been crucial to Michael Voss’ side, averaging 32.1 disposals per game in their 2022 campaign.

Brad Lloyd, Carlton’s head of football, explained that Walsh’s recovery timeline will be clearer after the opening month of the new season. 

“Throughout the last few months our number one priority has been for Sam’s wellbeing in managing this issue, which is why we explored every possible conservative treatment option,” Lloyd said in a club statement.

“Following this extensive process, it was clear that given all alternative treatments had not progressed his recovery, surgery was the required option to correct the issue.

“Sam is now recovering after undergoing surgery last night and will commence his rehabilitation in the New Year.

“While Sam’s professionalism and resilience is well-known, we will absolutely give Sam all the time he needs to make a full recovery before he returns to the side during the season.

“Due to the long-term nature of this rehabilitation, it isn’t possible to confirm a set date for his return right now. Once the opening month of the season has been completed though, we expect to be able to provide more clarity on his expected return to play.”

Carlton will kick off their 2023 campaign on March 16 with a clash at the MCG against Richmond.

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