Injury clouds hanging over several Bombers have cleared with a number of important Dons set to be made available for Essendon’s huge clash with Sydney on Friday.
Physical performance manager Justin Crow says young gun Andy McGrath, dangerous forward Orazio Fantasia and experienced ruckmen Tom Bellchambers and Zac Clarke have all put their hand up for selection.
McGrath was sent for scans on Monday after suffering knee soreness in the club’s loss to Geelong on Sunday, but Crow said the exciting youngster has been cleared of any issues.
“Andy McGrath had a sore knee during the game, it was much better the day after,” Crow said on the SKINS Injury Update on Tuesday.
“We scanned it to check and there is no issue on imaging, and he trained today and is looking good for the game this week.”
Fantasia was a late withdrawal for the second consecutive week before the match against the Cats, but he has since come along in leaps and bounds.
“Raz trained well today, he also got a session in later on the weekend.
“His energy is back, he’s over his illness and we expect him to be available.”
Orazio Fantasia is ready to be unleashed against the Swans on Friday. (Image: AFL Photos)
Extra importance has been placed on the fitness of Bellchambers and Clarke following an unfortunate season-ending knee injury for young ruckman Sam Draper, but Crow is confident the pair are ready to fire against the Swans.
“Tom got moving today and we expect him to get up for the match.
“Zac trained well over the weekend, his calf’s recovered from the original injury and he’ll be available.”
Draper suffered an ACL tear when landing awkwardly from a marking contest in the second term of the VFL Bombers’ defeat of the Cats and the emerging talent will go down a traditional path in his rehabilitation.
“Sam has an ACL tear, he’ll get a traditional reconstruction using a hamstring graft in a couple of weeks’ time.
“We’ll take that time to get his swelling down and get his muscle function going ahead of that operation, so obviously that’s the season (over) for Sam Draper.”
Defender Marty Gleeson (broken cheek bone) and forward Mitch Brown (fractured wrist) have been taking a limited part in some training sessions as they strive to be made available for Essendon’s Dreamtime at the ‘G game against Richmond in round 10.
“Marty is obviously limited by the healing in the face, so he’ll have a specialist’s review before he returns. He is tracking towards round 10,” Crow said.
“Mitch Brown as well with his fractured wrist, both of those players are doing as much of training as they can within limitations, and Mitch is also tracking back towards round 10.”
Mitch Brown is tracking well in his recovery from a fractured wrist. (Image: AFL Photos)
Key forward James Stewart continues to build up his running load as he recovers from a groin strain and could be made available in two to three weeks, while draftee Tuth ‘Tom’ Jok has also taken steps forward and is eyeing off the same timeframe following bone bruising to his knee.
“Tuth was back on the AlterG today, which he tolerated well, so we’ll just be progressing his running from here over the next week or two.”
Three Dons are currently recovering from hamstring injuries, with versatile forward Jayden Laverde nearing his return.
“Jayden’s progress has been good; he’s moving well, he did some of training today.
“We’re looking to return him to play over the next couple of weeks depending on how he tracks in this end stage of his rehabilitation.
The other two are tall forward Shaun McKernan and young midfielder Kobe Mutch, who are tracking well in their rehabilitation.
“Shaun’s on track for approximately a round 10 return. Obviously we will keep testing them later.
“Kobe is set for round 13-15. Both of those players are taking good steps forward in their progressions and we’ll keep a close eye on them and build them up as appropriate.”
The first bounce at the SCG is set for 7:50pm on Friday, while the VFL Dons will take on Casey Demons at Windy Hill from 2pm following the VFLW Bombers’ first game of the season at 11:30am.