IN THE CRUELLEST of blows, Melbourne winger Aaron Nietscke has suffered another major knee injury, with scans revealing he has ruptured his ACL for a third time.

The 20-year-old went down in the backline after an innocuous contest in the second quarter of Melbourne’s AFL/VFL match against Richmond at Casey Fields on Friday.

“Scans have unfortunately confirmed that Aaron has ruptured his ACL and will again miss a large portion of the year,” General Manager, Football Performance Alan Richardson told Melbourne Media.

“This is absolutely devastating news for Aaron and the club, as he was preparing for the season ahead.”

In what will be an extremely challenging time for Nietscke and his teammates, Richardson said he will have the full support of everyone at the club.

“Aaron is a very impressive and resilient person, his professionalism can’t be questioned and the way he attacks his rehab is outstanding,” he said.

“This is really unfortunate for Aaron who was in great shape since returning from his previous knee injury.

“Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to play consistent football since he was drafted due to injury.

"We will work with Aaron and ensure all options are assessed before deciding the most appropriate treatment required to reconstruct the ACL."

A popular member of the playing group, Nietscke has overcome two previous ACL injuries which sidelined him for his first two seasons in the AFL system.

Nietschke was recruited by the Dees with pick No.53 in the 2018 National Draft and hasn’t had luck on his side to this point of his career.