Suns hit with fresh AFL injury troubles

Oliver Caffrey
Charlie Ballard (right) is latest Suns player confirmed to be missing the start of the AFL season

AFL wooden spooners Gold Coast have been hit with a number of injuries three weeks out from their first pre-season match.

Promising defender Charlie Ballard will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after damaging his shoulder in a collision at training.

The 20-year-old featured in 21 games for the Suns last year, finishing ninth in their best-and-fairest.

Ballard will undergo surgery, with the earliest he could return being Gold Coast's clash with Adelaide at Metricon Stadium on May 2.

Teenage midfielder Wil Powell will also go under the knife, with a knee injury suffered towards the end of last season still giving him trouble.

The exciting midfielder injured his lateral meniscus in a tackle during a loss to Richmond in July after playing 13 games last year.

The Suns say Powell will miss the start of the season, but haven't pencilled in a return date.

The news is worse for rookie Mitch Riordan, with the untried midfielder to miss the entire 2020 season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.

"After limited preparations last year, Mitch had put together a really strong pre-season," Suns football operations boss Jon Haines said.

"He's been a great addition to our group in his short time at the club and we'll make sure that everyone within the club fully supports him during his rehabilitation period."

Former Port Adelaide and GWS defender Jack Hombsch fractured a rib at training last week.

In Stuart Dew's third season in charge at Gold Coast, the Suns are desperate to improve on their 3-19 record last year.

After being inside the top-eight following their round four win against Carlton, they lost their next 18 matches to cap off a horror campaign.

Gold Coast host Geelong in their opening practice match on February 22.