MELBOURNE has been dealt a double injury blow ahead of the AFLW season, with defenders Shae Sloane and Katherine Smith both suffering anterior crucial ligament injuries at training.

The pair, who sustained their injuries during separate sessions, will miss the Demons’ 2020 campaign.

After tearing her right ACL in Round 1 of the 2019 season, Sloane reinjured the same knee during the last training session before the Christmas break.

Smith suffered a similar injury following an innocuous incident on Thursday, with scans revealing the 21-year-old had also damaged her medial collateral ligament (MCL).

“It’s obviously a devastating outcome for Shae and Katherine, who are both integral members of our team,” AFLW Football Manager Daniel McPherson told Melbourne Media.

“While their injuries mean they won’t be running out with their teammates this season, both girls will still play important roles in supporting the playing group over the next few months.

“We will obviously be doing everything we can to support both Shae and Katherine during this challenging time, as they begin their roads to recovery.

“They are both terrific characters, and we know their resilience and determination will ensure they push each other through their recovery and rehab to come back even stronger for the 2021 season.”

The pair will undergo surgery in the coming weeks.