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Leaders set to be tested

BTV: Injury Update - Rd 20 With Physical Performance Manager, Justin Crow.
Michael Hurley is going well, he’s back running.”
Justin Crow

Essendon stars Dyson Heppell and Orazio Fantasia will need to prove their fitness at the Bombers’ main training session on Wednesday if they are to line up against Port Adelaide on Saturday.

Heppell is expected to be a week-to-week proposition for the remainder of the season as he battles ongoing growth plate soreness in his foot that kept him out of his side’s 10-point victory over Gold Coast, while Fantasia has now missed the Dons’ last two victories with a minor hip complaint.

Club physical performance manager Justin Crow says the duo will undertake the same test as last week to put their hand up for selection to take on the Power at Marvel Stadium. 

“Both of those players weren’t quite there last week,” Crow said on Tuesday.

“We’ll be doing the same process this week, which is checking them on the main training day to see how good they are and if they’re ready to play.”

Dyson Heppell and Orazio Fantasia remain in the mix to play against Port Adelaide. (Image: AFL Photos

One Bomber who is available to play this week is important tall Shaun McKernan after he was cleared of any injury suffered in a nasty knock to the ribs against the Suns on Sunday.

Early signs are also positive for two-time All Australian Michael Hurley, whose rehabilitation from AC joint (shoulder) surgery has been successful so far.

“Michael Hurley is going well, he’s back running,” Crow said.

“The physiotherapy tests and exercises he’s doing are all progressing really well, so he’s showing some good and promising early signs.”

Ruckman Tom Bellchambers’ recovery from a calf injury has been slow and steady, but Crow expects the veteran to make a breakthrough in his progress later this week.

“We’re working through that run preparation phase. We’re aiming to run Tom at the end of this week.

“(It was) slow progress early but we’ll see, once we get him running, how quickly we can go from there.”

Tom Bellchambers is expected to start running this week for the first time since round 15. (Image: AFL Photos)

Irving Mosquito has returned to The Hangar following a brief trip home to Halls Creek for personal reasons and the exciting young forward is nearing his return from a hamstring strain.

“Irving’s back, he’ll take another week to make sure he gets in enough training before he becomes available.

“We’re hopeful that if he passes all of his end-stage tests that he’ll be available the week after this game.”

Devon Smith (knee), Joe Daniher (groin), Kobe Mutch (knee), James Stewart (groin) and Sam Draper (knee) wrap up the injury list and Crow has been particularly impressed by the efforts and commitment shown by the leadership of the former pair.

“There’s a lot of leadership in that group, Devon and Joe in particular have really set an example for those other players,” he said.

“I’m always very impressed with their work rate and their contribution to the rest of the club.”

The Bombers will aim to make it six wins on the trot when they take on Port Adelaide from 1:45pm on Saturday, while the VFL Dons will look to bounce back from a rare loss when they face Sandringham at midday on Saturday at Windy Hill.