2012 Stawell Gift winner Matt Wiltshire forced out of 2014 gift

BALLARAT running sensation Matt Wiltshire is out of the Stawell Gift.

The winner of the 2012 Stawell Gift, Wiltshire has been forced out of the event with a lingering foot injury.

Wiltshire cut his foot on broken glass in January and initially expected to be forced off the track for about three weeks.

However, the injury is yet to fully heal, three months later, with ultrasounds revealing the glass actually cut tendons inside the foot.

File photo: Matt Wiltshire before the 2013 Stawell Gift.

File photo: Matt Wiltshire before the 2013 Stawell Gift.

Although he conceded he would not have been at peak fitness if he was to race in the gift, Wiltshire said he was still disappointed not to be running.

If competing, he would be racing off a handicap of 3.75 metres, compared to the eight metres he won off two years ago.

He will still attend the carnival to support his fellow POD Squad athletes, as well as his coach Peter O'Dwyer, who will run off a 10-metre handicap in the main event.

"Obviously I love going back and taking in the atmosphere, it's a magical place to be," Wiltshire said.

"It's disappointing not to be racing. But right now, especially with the injury, it's probably the unfittest I've been for five years."

Although he will not be racing this weekend, Wiltshire said seeing O'Dwyer win would almost be as satisfying as winning himself.

"If Pod (O'Dwyer) was to win, I'd be the second happiest bloke in Stawell," he said.

O'Dwyer will race off a 10-metre handicap and will run his first heat on Saturday.

It is unlikely Wiltshire will require surgery, provided he gives his foot ample rest.