Jake Kelly in action during the Bombers' practice match against the Bulldogs. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Essendon is set to have a strong team to choose from for its round one Powercor Country Festival game against Geelong on Saturday, with Jake Kelly, Jake Stringer and Aaron Francis in the frame to return.

Stringer has been under an injury cloud for the previous month thanks to a troublesome groin, but performed match simulation last Friday.

Head of high performance Sean Murphy gave an update on the 28-year-old.

“’String’s’ going well. He’s on top of that groin injury he’s had and he had some good match play last Friday, which was a really good hitout for the group,” Murphy told Dons Digital’s Liberty Financial Performance Update.

“He was one of those guys who had 60 minutes of match-play in there and he was able to get through that and pull up pretty well.”


Dons fans will hopefully get to see the club debut of new recruit Kelly, who has overcome a delayed concussion diagnosis.

After taking a knock to the head against the Western Bulldogs, the former Crow missed the Dons’ final practice game against St Kilda, but Murphy said the defender would likely be available for selection against the Cats.

“(Jake) had that delayed concussion from our practice game against the Bulldogs, where he got some good minutes from that which was important,” Murphy said.

“He got a little knock which kept him out for the Saints game, but he was able to get in 60 minutes of match practice on Friday, so another important step for him.

“He hasn’t missed a beat from a conditioning point of view, so we’ll assess him over the course of this week and put his name up.”


Francis was also injured in the Bombers' practice match against the Bulldogs, with Murphy saying the forward would need to get through training this week to be considered for selection.

“’Franc’ landed awkwardly in that Bulldogs game. He came back on and finished that game, but he did hyperextend that knee and it had a bit of swelling," he said.

"We had to manage that acutely and get him back up and running. The aim will be to train fully across this week and put his name up.”

The news is not as promising for young key forward Harrison Jones, who’s suffered a separate ankle injury.

Murphy said Jones would be managed this week to assess how long the 21-year-old would have to miss games.

“Really unfortunate for 'Jonesy'. He’s had a little bit of an interrupted pre-season with an ankle injury previously,” Murphy said.

“This was a very separate incident on the same ankle, an innocuous marking contest so he just went over on that. We’re just acutely managing it at the moment, and we’ll assess over this week for how long it’ll take him to return.”


Player Injury Duration
Jake Stringer Groin Test
Aaron Francis Knee Test
Harry Jones Ankle Short term
Zach Reid Foot Medium term
Michael Hurley Hip Indefinite