ST KILDA key defender Clara Fitzpatrick will sit out the 2021 NAB AFLW season due to visa issues, with a replacement player yet to be named.
Fitzpatrick, who is currently in her native Ireland, has been seeking permanent residency in Australia, but her application has been delayed due to COVID-19.
An extension on Fitzpatrick's player contract paperwork had been granted by the AFL in the hope the permanent residency application would be approved in time, but the deadline has now passed.
We can't wait to see you again soon, Clara ??— St Kilda FCW (@stkildafcw) November 26, 2020
Clara Fitzpatrick will miss the upcoming season after being placed on the club's inactive list.
The 30-year-old played five of a possible six games in the 2020 season (missing one with concussion*), and won the St Kilda's coaches' award.
>> *CRAZY BRAVE CLARA KO'D: WATCH THE INCIDENT BELOW
As an inactive player, Fitzpatrick will be able to re-join the Saints' list in 2022. She has been playing Gaelic football with County Down while in Ireland.
"It’s disappointing to see Clara miss 2021 through circumstances beyond anyone’s control," St Kilda head of women's footy Jamie Cox said.
"Clara is an important and much-loved member of our playing group who always brings a positive attitude.
"As a club, we will continue to keep in close contact with Clara and we’re certain she’ll be watching the Saints with great interest from the other side of the world."