Two-time All Australian Michael Hurley is in the mix to return for Essendon’s crucial clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday.

Hurley has been on the sidelines since suffering an AC joint injury in the Bombers’ defeat of North Melbourne in round 17, but impressive recent progress has seen the important defender eye off a potential return this week.

“Michael Hurley saw the specialist earlier this week,” club physical performance manager Justin Crow said on Tuesday.

“If he can train well and prove his fitness from that shoulder point of view, which we’re hopeful that he can, then there’s a chance that he’ll be made available this weekend.”

Michael Hurley has been off the field since this bump from Kangaroo Cameron Zurhaar in round 17. (Image: AFL Photos)

Young guns Darcy Parish (concussion) and Aaron Francis (whiplash) are on track to be available for selection against the Dockers after overcoming the issues that held them back from last week’s disappointing loss to the Western Bulldogs.

“Both of those players are a lot better for the weekend off – Francis with his whiplash and Parish with his concussion.

“We’re expecting them to fully train this week and be available.”

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Powerful forwards Shaun McKernan and Jake Stringer both received treatment on their hamstrings in last week’s heavy defeat.

Crow said the former is in the clear for selection, but Stringer will need to prove his fitness on the track if he is to take his place in the side in Perth due to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

“Shaun McKernan’s the first one, he had some tightness in that hamstring through the game.

“Fortunately, there’s a bruise where he got a knock on that hamstring, so it’s really just a corky. He’s training fully this week and will be available.

“Jake also got treated on his hamstrings as he does from time to time. We scanned that this week and it showed high-grade DOMS.

“We’ll just be tracking him day by day in terms of his availability for the match.”

Jake Stringer is still recovering from the clash with the Bulldogs. (Image: AFL Photos)

Athletic defender Adam Saad will also be subjected to a fitness test after making sharp progress in his recovery from a minor hamstring strain.

“‘Saady’ is progressing well, we’ll be getting a good look at him again tomorrow (Wednesday) and weighing up his availability.

“It would be an early return from a hamstring if he was to come back, but it’s a minor injury, so we’ll be weighing all of those things up.”

Dyson Heppell (foot) and Orazio Fantasia (hip) continue to be assessed for their availability each week, with Will Snelling (foot), Kobe Mutch (knee), Joe Daniher (groin), Devon Smith (knee), Sam Draper (knee), James Stewart (groin) and Matt Guelfi (knee) rounding out the injury list.

The Bombers will take on the Dockers from 6:10pm (AWST) on Saturday.