Emerging star Andrew McGrath will sit out next week's pre-season clash with Carlton under the AFL's new concussion protocols after receiving a head knock at training.

The Bombers' No.1 pick and new leadership group member suffered the contact at training on Monday, with the club confirming he would not be available to face the Blues next Thursday at Ikon Park in the behind-closed-doors practice game.

The club will continue to monitor McGrath's progress, with the 22-year-old aiming to face Geelong on March 6 in the Bombers' AAMI Community Series game.

Under the AFL's new rules introduced for 2021, any player diagnosed with concussion must be sidelined for 12 days after the incident – either during the season or at training.

McGrath was elevated to Essendon's leadership group for this season after a breakout year in 2020 that saw him step into the midfield before a syndesmosis ankle injury cut short his campaign.

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The Bombers will be missing several first-choice players for the meeting with the Blues as they turn up their preparations for the season.

Michael Hurley's return to the field is unclear as he faces an indefinite stint on the sidelines with a hip infection, while Jake Stringer is also dealing with his Achilles soreness that has bugged him throughout the pre-season.

David Zaharakis (knee) and Patrick Ambrose (foot) are also in the rehabilitation group after their injuries last year.

A leg injury has kept exciting ruckman Sam Draper away from the main group in recent sessions but he is expected to soon return to full fitness.

Essendon is likely to blood several new faces against the Blues, with key forward Harrison Jones and versatile draftee Nik Cox among the group of younger Bombers set to feature. Cox impressed in the Bombers' match simulation session on Thursday.

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