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Dons 'optimistic' on trio

Ben Guthrie afl.com.au  September 1, 2017 12:04 PM

BTV: Rob Kerr Media Conference - Sept 1 Essendon's GM of Football Operations, Rob Kerr, spoke to the media.

Essendon is confident star trio Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker and Orazio Fantasia will be fit for its Elimination Final clash against Sydney at the SCG on Saturday week.

Hurley, the All Australian centre-half back, did not train with teammates at Tullamarine on Friday, with Bombers football boss Rob Kerr saying he was booked in for an appointment on his injured calf.

Hooker, who has been battling bone bruising in his leg, was at the club's headquarters but did not venture out on to the track and Fantasia, who has not played since hurting his hamstring in round 20, stepped up his training in rehab.

"We remain hopeful that all three will be right to go. Next Wednesday will be the day where they'll be assessed but we're pretty optimistic," Kerr said.

Hurley has not taken to the field since round 21 after being ruled out with a calf injury.

"He's actually got to go off-site for an appointment today. He'll train tomorrow and again he's another one who's on track. His running has been increased and it's looking pretty positive for Hurls," Kerr said.

"You've got to be a little bit careful because you don't want to damage it further and if you really blow the calf you're done.

"We've been pretty conservative with his management to date and the extra week this week will really help that out."

Hooker is in a similar boat, with the Bombers being cautious the progression of his training.

"We'll take it pretty easy with him. We just want to manage the load and give him plenty of rest and give him the best opportunity," Kerr said.

"Things are progressing well but we'll have to be conservative at the same time.

"We're pretty hopeful he will be (available)."

Fantasia trained at a reasonably high tempo on the adjacent oval at the club's True Value Solar Centre base, after completing the first stages of the warm up with the main group.

"Orazio will lift his running a bit today. He'll run at a faster rate than he has in the last few days which is a good sign," Kerr said.

"There's no more soreness in that hamstring. Again, we're optimistic that he'll get over the line."

The Bombers are not worried by the prospect of taking in three players under injury clouds, with Kerr drawing inspiration from the Western Bulldogs who had Tom Liberatore (ankle), Easton Wood (ankle), Jack Macrae (hamstring) and Jake Stringer all return to the side on the eve of their finals run. 

"We draw some inspiration from what the Bulldogs last year and we've got great confidence in the medical team and the strength and conditioning boys in terms of making sure their preparation is spot on," Kerr said. 

There was a big turnout for the club's open training session, as fans watched the team go through their paces on Friday.

Legendary coach Kevin Sheedy was among those rallying around the supporters and the four-time premiership coach is bullish about the Bombers' finals chances.

"We rolled into 1993 and nobody thought we would win the premiership, at the start of the year, in the middle of the year and at the end of the year," Sheedy said.

"Young people grow in finals and they put their best out there and you've got a chance – and that's the exciting part for the Bombers fans and the players.

"The Bombers have got as good a chance as anybody."