Adelaide defender Brent Reilly will remain in intensive care for days after having parts of his skull fractured into small pieces in an AFL training accident.
Reilly is in a stable condition and “breathing by himself” on Tuesday, the day after emergency surgery, Adelaide’s club doctor Andrew Potter says.
Dr Potter said it was unknown if Reilly, a veteran of 203 AFL games, would play again.
The 31-year-old has spoken with his wife and family at his bedside in intensive care after being kneed to the left side of his head at training on Monday.
“It was a fracture at the side of the skull and it involved more than a crack, it was just several small pieces, and that is why it needed to be stabilised,” Dr Potter told reporters on Tuesday.
“His condition at the moment is as expected. He is breathing spontaneously by himself. He is sedated which is normal standard procedure for this situation but he’s breathing by himself.
“His condition hasn’t deteriorated overnight. It has remained stable.”
Dr Potter said such an injury was rare in Australia Rules football but more common in high-speed sports such as motor racing and downhill skiing.
“I haven’t come across it in football before,” he said.
Reilly was injured in a “routine game-simulation football drill, contested ball situation”, he said.
“Just one of those unfortunate incidents where a knee struck the side of the head,” Dr Potter said.
Reilly was conscious when taken from the training ground to hospital by ambulance and his Melbourne-based parents flew to Adelaide soon after the accident.
Dr Potter said Reilly would remain in intensive care in coming days but was unable to offer a longer-term prognosis.
“We’re unable to say that at this stage, bearing in mind it’s less than 24 hours since surgery,” he said.
“His progress is as expected at this stage.”
Reilly’s playing future was also uncertain.
“As always with any surgical intervention there are some things that occur which is normal part of the recovery,” Dr Potter said.
“And we really have to wait until that all settles down and we see how Brent is progressing over the next week or so or even longer before we answer that question.
“I know everyone is keen to know that and we are too but it’s just one of those things where we just have to take it, to use a cliche, day by day.”
Adelaide coach Phil Walsh, chief executive Andrew Fagan and some senior players visited Reilly after all players and staff were briefed on the injury.
Adelaide’s football manager David Noble said support networks including a sports psychiatrist and pastor had been offered to players.
“Trauma effects and has an impact on everyone individually and I think what we need to do at the moment is provide that (support) network,” Noble told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s providing a range of support there for everyone to access if and when they feel the time is appropriate.”