Defender Aaron Francis will push his case to return to the Bombers’ best 22 for Saturday’s match against Greater Western Sydney at GIANTS Stadium.

Francis was not selected for the round seven match against Carlton after being unable to recover from an ankle sprain sustained the previous week in Essendon’s Anzac Day victory over Collingwood.

Without guaranteeing his availability for the Bombers’ round eight clash in Sydney, head of high performance Sean Murphy said Francis would be very close to playing against the Giants given he was nearly selected to face the Blues.

“’Franc’ (Aaron Francis) was very close to getting up (for the Carlton game),” Murphy told Dons Digital's Liberty Financial Performance Update.  

“Unfortunately, he just wasn’t quite right. He ran on the weekend and he’ll run again today and we’ll sort of build up his program to test him out to be available for GWS.

“All things are looking pretty good at the moment though.”

Ruckman Andrew Phillips is also looming as another player who’ll be available for selection following a steady progression in his training loads.

The 29-year-old, who suffered a knock in Essendon’s Anzac Day victory, trained strongly over the weekend, signalling a positive step towards a return to playing.

“He’ll (Andrew Phillips) also be a test this week,” Murphy said.

“He copped a heavy knock last week. He did a session over the weekend and he’ll build up again this week and train.”

Key defender Zach Reid will spend a short amount of time away from the club recovering after his tonsillitis progressed to glandular fever recently.

Murphy said Reid has recovered quicker than expected and will look to resume full training shortly.

“After having tonsillitis, Zach was diagnosed with glandular fever. He will be away from the club this week and pleasingly is now on the improve," Murphy said.

"Zach will be on light duties this week and we will look to get him back into the club next week to then build up his program as he can tolerate.”

Midfielder Tom Cutler will miss several weeks of football after suffering a calf injury in Essendon’s VFL loss to Carlton.

The versatile 25-year-old was forced out of Sunday’s game early and subsequent scans have confirmed Cutler will face a stint on the sidelines.  

“Unfortunately, he (Tom Cutler) sustained a calf strain,” Murphy said.

“He had an MRI yesterday to confirm that. We’ll see how he settles this week, but he’ll miss a few weeks with that.”

Murphy also touched on an ankle injury to forward Alec Waterman, Michael Hurley’s return to the club following his hip infection and notable performances in the Dons’ loss to the Blues from midfielder Andrew McGrath and defender James Stewart.

Watch round eight’s Liberty Financial Performance Update below.

03:26 Mins
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Performance update | Round eight

Head of high performance Sean Murphy provides a performance update ahead of round eight.

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INJURY LIST - RD 8

PLAYER INJURY ESTIMATED RETURN
Aaron Francis Ankle Test
Andrew Phillips General soreness Test
Alec Waterman Ankle Test
Tom Cutler Calf Medium term
Zach Reid Illness Medium term
Jye Caldwell Hamstring Medium term
Sam Draper Ankle Medium term
Dylan Clarke Ankle Medium term
Michael Hurley Illness Long term
Dylan Shiel Knee Long term
Irving Mosquito Knee Long term
Kaine Baldwin Knee Long term
Updated Tuesday, May 4