Experienced Bombers Tom Bellchambers and Cale Hooker could both be in line to return for Essendon’s blockbuster clash with Collingwood on Friday night.
Hooker was a late withdrawal from the Bombers’ 32-point victory over Fremantle last week due to groin soreness, but club physical performance manager Justin Crow says the key defender is right on track to take on the Magpies.
“Cale’s good, he trained well today,” Crow said on Tuesday.
“He just had some soreness and didn’t quite get to the line last week, but he trained well and we expect him to be available.”
Cale Hooker is on track to return against Collingwood on Friday. (Image: AFL Photos)
Bellchambers has been on the sidelines since suffering a calf injury against Greater Western Sydney in round 15, but all signs are positive heading into this week.
Coach John Worsfold said he expects Bellchambers to play in either the seniors or the VFL and Crow said he “trained well” to put himself in the mix for selection.
The imminent return of Bellchambers is particularly timely with fellow ruck Zac Clarke set for a stint off the field due to bone stress.
“Zac was sore after the game at Optus Stadium in his leg. We scanned it, which showed some low-grade bone stress in the fibula within the leg,” Crow said.
“The decision now is obviously to get him off his feet to let that settle down and then build him up to hopefully being available for finals.”
Midfielder David Zaharakis will undergo surgery on Tuesday after sustaining a nasty ankle injury against the Dockers, but Crow said the club is yet to put a line through his season.
“Watching the game, you would have seen that David got his leg caught under (himself) and another player’s weight went through it.
“Unfortunately, that ankle (injury) involves the syndesmosis, which is the sheath between the two bones in your leg. He’s gone in for surgery on that today.
“We’ve seen varying return timelines over the last few years, so we will be waiting until post-surgery to talk to the specialist about what David’s best chance is of returning and if it would be possible, if we went deep into the finals, that he might be available then or not.”
First-year Bombers Irving Mosquito and Noah Gown are also undergoing surgery on Tuesday. Mosquito suffered a significant hamstring injury in the dying stages of the VFL Bombers’ narrow loss to Richmond on Saturday, while Gown’s ongoing foot trouble will be taken care of to allow for a full pre-season.
“Right in the last minute of the game (Mosquito) did a sprint and got collected by another player. It was that awkward position and collision and he’s got another hamstring strain,” Crow said.
“Sometimes when you get caught in those awkward positions the hamstring strain affects the upper part of the hamstring around the tendon - unfortunately for Irving, that was the case.
“He’s in for surgery today to repair that tendon and that will be the end of his season.
“Noah needed an operation on his foot and we’ve decided that if we give it to him now and he has an operation this week, then he’ll have a full pre-season next year.”
Tough midfielder Will Snelling is eyeing off a return from his minor foot injury next week when the VFL side kicks off its finals campaign.
“Will’s tracking well, he’s running and building back up. He’ll be aiming towards the first VFL final.”
Joe Daniher (groin), Devon Smith (knee), Sam Draper (knee), Matt Guelfi (knee), James Stewart (groin) and Kobe Mutch (knee) round out the injury list.