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Goalkickers set to return

BTV: SKINS Injury Update - Rd 10 With Physical Performance Manager, Justin Crow.
There are a number of players returning to our AFL and VFL squads this week.”
Justin Crow

Essendon physical performance manager Justin Crow says the decision to send star onballer Devon Smith for surgery has been made with the 2020 season in mind.

The procedure early next week will put Smith out of action for the remainder of this season, but the club is hopeful it will free up the 2018 Crichton Medal winner in the future by killing two birds with one stone.

“Two weeks ago, Devon had that fresh injury to his trochlea under his knee cap, after which we’ve got him to see the surgeon yesterday after returning from overseas and he had a good look at that,” Crow said on the SKINS Injury Update.

“There’s the underlying issue of Dev’s knee being PCL deficient, which is a long-term issue that he’s had.

“The decision has been made to address the trochlea with surgery, but at the same time we’re going to do a PCL reconstruction to try to improve the stability of that knee and hopefully improve the ability of that knee to help withstand AFL workloads.

“So that means that Devon will be in for surgery early next week, he’ll be rehabilitating, hopefully he’ll be back running at around the 12-week mark.

“He won’t be available again this season, but what we’re hoping is that he has a good pre-season heading into 2020.”

Devon Smith's season is over, with the midfielder set for surgery next week. (Image: AFL Photos)

In better news, a string of Bombers are on the cusp of returning from the sidelines including experienced trio Shaun McKernan, Mitch Brown and Marty Gleeson.

“Shaun McKernan will train with the main group tomorrow, he’s been training with the group now for two weeks. We’re expecting him to be available to play, all going well in that session.

“Mitch Brown is a test with his wrist. If he gets that final tick off and gets through training without issue, he’ll be available.

“The other player who had the facial fracture is Marty Gleeson. He’s now got the all clear, he will train with the main group and, again, without any incident he’ll then be available to play.”

Shaun McKernan has progressed well and is likely to take the field this week. (Image: AFL Photos)

Exciting young Dons Tuth “Tom” Jok and Trent Mynott are also in the mix ahead of Essendon’s VFL clash with Richmond at Punt Road on Saturday.

“Tuth Jok has been building back up after an issue with his tibiofibular joint in his leg. That’s now a lot better, he’s training with the main group as well tomorrow and we’re optimistic that he’ll play this weekend,” Crow said.

“Trent Mynott, after his calf issue, is another test. He’ll train, we’re hopeful he’ll play.

“As you can see, there are a number of players returning to our AFL and VFL squads this week.”

James Stewart has been off the scene with a groin issue, but Crow said the key forward has taken a number of positive steps towards his return.

“James has been progressing a lot better in this last fortnight, he’s now building his running back up.

“We’re looking to see him do bits of training with the main group this week and then we’ll be making a judgement about how quickly we bring him back in to play, whether it’s next week or after that.”

James Stewart is patiently edging closer to a return. (Image: AFL Photos)

Damaging forward Orazio Fantasia has also kicked off his rehabilitation well following a quad injury suffered against the Swans in round eight, but he is still most likely to return following the club’s upcoming bye.

“He’s made good early progress. He’s back doing some good volume of running.

“We think it’s unlikely he returns before the mid-season break, but at the moment all signs are positive in his recovery.”

Long-term injured Bomber Kobe Mutch continues to chip away at his own rehabilitation from a serious hamstring injury, with his approximate return five to six weeks away.

“Kobe, in terms of his recovery, is just past the halfway mark – he’s seven weeks into what is likely to be a 12-week injury.

“We’ll keep monitoring his progress as he builds through that end-stage rehab over the next month.”

The club is set for a Dreamtime triple header in Richmond on Saturday with the VFL and VFLW Dons taking on the Tigers before the senior side takes the field for the Dreamtime at the G clash, which will begin at 7:25pm.