Sydney: Star striker Des Abbott has withdrawn from the Australian men's team for this month's London Olympics field hockey tournament with a knee injury, Hockey Australia said on Friday.
Abbott will be replaced by Russell Ford, who coach Ric Charlesworth admitted had been unlucky to miss original selection after also missing out on the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"Des is a walk-up start, if his game is uncompromised, he is one of the world's most brilliant players, but the progressive knee injury has interfered in his game," Charlesworth said.
"This is the most difficult thing I've had to do in my time. We acknowledge what Des, at his best, can be but given the circumstances we felt Russell Ford was the better option."
Charlesworth said Ford had terrific ball skills, was an endurance athlete with speed and the ability to score goals.
The "Kookaburras" are strong favourites for the gold medal in London after a dominant period.
Under coach Charlesworth, Australia have won the 2010 World Cup, three of their last four Champions' Trophy victories and have been placed in the top four in every Olympics since 1980, including gold in 2004.