Essendon senior coach John Worsfold today spoke to the media for the first time since the Bombers' return to training on Monday.
Below are five key takeaways from his media conference.
1. No return date for Daniher
A conservative approach continues to be taken with Joe Daniher, with the key forward "still a fair way off" training at match-like intensity.
Daniher has not played since May 18 last year, with his 12-month stint on the sidelines set to extend as he recovers from a groin injury.
Worsfold said Daniher's long-term health remained the No.1 priority.
"When I look at what Joe is doing at the moment, it’s not enough to say that he’ll be ready for round two," Worsfold said.
"We’re not concerned about saying ‘get him back as quick as possible’. We’re just following a protocol because this is about the long-term for Joe, helping him get over this so that his career progresses at the rate we want, rather than trying to get him back one or two weeks earlier."
2. Heppell touch and go
Dyson Heppell is a chance to return in round two, despite the captain not yet back to full training after foot surgery.
Worsfold said the 28-year-old was leaving no stone unturned in his quest to return to full fitness.
"It's going to be line-ball I would guess [for him to be ready], but the good part is that we're talking that way and he's prepping to play now, whether it's in a couple of weeks or it stretches out by a week or so," he said.
"He’s working his backside off to get fit and strong, and he’s looking great."
3. Injured players won't be rushed
With a quick turnaround until round two (June 11), Worsfold was wary of rushing injured players back.
He said the club was well prepared to deal with the risks posed from the seven-week hiatus preceding the return to training.
"We’re not going to skip steps of players’ rehabilitation to get them ready in a shorter period of time," he said.
"There are unknowns around bringing players back from no contact for the last six or seven weeks and reintegrating a lot of contact work in these players, where they definitely will pull up sore.
"We also know that we've only got a three-week period to harden up their bodies and prep them for a game, without overdoing it but making sure they’ve done enough.
"We’ll have to monitor it (situation) and get a lot of feedback from the players, but stick to the program over the next three weeks which we’ve put a lot of thought into."
4. McKenna facing uphill battle
Irish speedster Conor McKenna returned to Melbourne on Saturday evening, but has entered a mandatory 14-day quarantine period like other overseas travellers returning to the country.
It means the 24-year-old won't be able to rejoin his teammates on the track until at least May 30, with Worsfold conceding he'd be unlikely for selection in round two.
"It’s another one of those unique challenges that we face," he said.
"We know Conor’s got some equipment where he can do some physical activity while he’s in quarantine. In terms of what he needs to do to be able to play AFL footy, we’ll have to assess him when he comes out of that, but it’s going to be tough for him to say he’s ready for round two.
"I won’t rule it out, but he’ll be behind the other players in terms of contact training, so we’ll have to work out how we reintegrate that into Conor’s program."
5. One in, all in
With Essendon's players and skeleton staff returning to the club this week, Worsfold stressed the importance of following the strict medical and social distancing protocols.
He said it was a responsibility no individual at the club was taking lightly.
"What we’re trying to do for everyone inside this hub, not just the players, is make them aware of the risk factors," he said.
"They all understand that if they get infected by not taking the appropriate measures, they put everyone else at the club at risk, but also the competition as a whole.
"We’re being smart about where the risks lie, weighing up those risks and making the good decisions around that. A lot of maturity is expected from the players and the staff that are in the hubs."