ADELAIDE coach Neil Craig says the race to replace injured defender Andy Otten is wide open, with no one player confirmed as a definite starter for round one.
Otten, 20, had a full knee reconstruction on Friday morning after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a non-contact drill at training on Thursday.
The NAB Rising Star runner-up was trying to sidestep an opponent on Max Basheer Reserve when his knee gave way beneath him.
He heard a crunching sound as he collapsed to the ground and scans that afternoon confirmed he would miss the entire 2010 season.
Craig said Otten had been earmarked for a greater role in the midfield next year.
“It’s really disappointing for Andy. He had an outstanding year, played every game and his form in pre-season had been fantastic,” Craig told afl.com.au. “He’d done a lot of his training in the midfield and was showing some really good signs that he could add to our midfield for 2010, but that’s not going to happen now.
“Andy’s a really strong-minded person, so we need to make sure we use the next 12 months to make him a better player in terms of conditioning, strength, leadership and game knowledge.
“He won’t have another 20-plus games under his belt, but we need to make sure all the other parts of his game progress.”
Otten will join upgraded rookie Brodie Martin, who is five months into his rehabilitation from the same injury, on the sidelines.
The injury to Otten has opened the door for one of No.10 draft pick Phil Davis, utility Will Young or dashing half-back Tony Armstrong to cement a spot in the Crows’ defence.
Craig didn’t even rule out replacing Otten with a draftee, like key-position player Daniel Talia, should a newcomer demand selection over the summer months.
“The sun comes up and the game keeps going on, that’s the reality of it. When Andy went down yesterday you could feel the emotion out there as a group because they all had a fair idea of the severity of it,” he said.
“But we push on because every club has injuries and it will be an opportunity for someone else. I don’t know who those guys are at the moment, but they’ll emerge and that will be based on their performance at training and in the NAB Cup.
“I don’t want to put limitations on any of our players, so if a Rory Sloane, any of our rookies or any of our four, new draftees can push into the side we’ll play them.”