Eaglehawk skipper Tim Hill. The reliable defender will be out for several months with an ankle injury. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

EAGLEHAWK has been dealt an injury blow on the eve of the Bendigo Football Netball League season, with captain Tim Hill to spend an extended stint on the sidelines.

Hill suffered a serious ankle injury in a practice match three weeks ago that has seen him in a moon boot.

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The club remains confident he will not need surgery, a course of action that could potentially see him miss the entire season.

The star key defender will spend an extended period on the sidelines, though Bowe remains hopeful that he will be back sooner rather than later.

“We’re pretty confident he’ll be back midseason, and we’re lucky in that we have good depth to cover the couple of injuries we have,” the Borough coach said.

Hill will not be the only star player to miss the opening round across the competition.

Interleague defender Brenton Conforti and the versatile Lachie Atherton will also miss the Borough’s home opener through injury.

Eaglehawk’s opponent, reigning premier Strathfieldsaye, also enters the new campaign without some key names.

Premiership co-captain Jayden Donaldson is unavailable for the grand final rematch as is recruit Hugh Robertson, while Bryce Curnow is under an injury cloud.

Sandhurst will be without premiership players Joel Wharton, Pascale Craig and Josh Hann while two-time Harding medallist Zeb Broadbent  and teammate Cal Prest are both suspended.

Meantime, Golden Square forward Travis Baird is in doubt heading into Saturday night’s clash with the Dragons at the QEO.

The corresponding A-grade netball matchup will serve as a reminder of Sandhurst’s 2017 premiership and one of a number of important games to kick start 2018.

While some of the names in the Golden Square side will be very different, Sandhurst returns the bulk of its premiership-winning squad.

With improvements from the likes of Meg Williams, Imogen Sexton and Sophie Shoebridge, Dragons co-coach Heather Oliver is confident her side can start the season strongly.