Defender Ed Vickers-Willis has escaped serious damage to his surgically repaired left knee.
Vickers-Willis underwent an arthroscopy on Monday after feeling some discomfort in the same knee he sustained an anterior cruciate ligament tear in, in round one this year against Fremantle.
That setback cost the 23-year-old the rest of the 2019 season but he was tracking ahead of schedule in his recovery until this hiccup.
AFL.com.au understands North Melbourne officials had some concerns about Vickers-Willis' graft, similar to why Richmond star Alex Rance pulled the pin on his finals comeback.
It is fairly common for athletes recovering from an ACL rupture to feel some discomfort as they increase their rehabilitation, and this week's operation 'tidied up' some minor issues.
Vickers-Willis will now focus on strengthening the knee again in the lead-up to Christmas rather than resuming running.
He will ramp up his season preparations post the break but will still initially be on a modified program.
There is no return date in mind at this stage for him to play again and that will depend on how he progresses after Christmas.
Vickers-Willis has played only 15 games – and never more than seven in a season – since being the No.36 selection in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft but has looked a long-term option in defence whenever he has appeared.
The 190cm backman is versatile enough to play on tall and small opponents and is part of the club's solution in the wake of Scott Thompson's retirement.
He has endured a horror injury run, including suffering posterior cruciate and lateral ligament tears in his right knee when he crashed into a goalpost in a round seven victory over Sydney in 2018.
Vickers-Willis missed the second half of the 2017 campaign with a PCL issue as well.