In what’s been a horror news week for the Bombers, a fairytale return looms for a veteran defender.
Plus there’s mixed news at the Dockers, while North could re-call its top draftee.
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Amid a tumultuous week for the club, ESSENDON could make a fairytale selection and name veteran Michael Hurley for the Richmond clash.
Hurley, a dual All-Australian defender, hasn’t played since Round 18, 2020 due to a debilitating hip issue.
However the key-position Bomber now played five games at VFL level, including 14-disposals, eight-mark performance against Werribee on the weekend.
Midfielder Ben Hobbs, who was the unused medical sub last week, could also come into the side as several changes loom following the 84-point loss to Port Adelaide.
RICHMOND will be without triple premiership midfielder Jack Graham for Saturday night’s match against Essendon, while he’s “questionable” for the club’s elimination final.
Graham has dealt with a turf toe-type issue for most of the season, but felt “some awareness and soreness”, according to Richmond physical performance manager Peter Burge, on the outside of one of his feet before being subbed out of Sunday’s win over Hawthorn.
“(That) caught us by surprise a little bit, and we had some scans on Monday, which showed he’s got a little bit of a stress issue, a stress reaction, in his third metatarsal,” Burge said.
“Jack’s in a moon boot at the moment and he’ll be offloaded for seven days. It’s on the minor end of stress-type injuries, so we’re hopeful that in the back-end of next week we’ll be running again.
“In terms of the finals series, he’s certainly, at this stage, questionable for the first final, but we’re optimistic that we’ll have him in a position where he’ll be hopefully training and available to play that week.”
Retirement-bound Shane Edwards (ankle) and Thomson Dow (concussion) are expected to be available this weekend.
FREMANTLE could welcome back superstar skipper Nat Fyfe for Saturday’s must-win clash against the Giants in Canberra.
The dual Brownlow Medallist has spent the past three weeks recovering from a hamstring injury.
But coach Justin Longmuir said if Fyfe got through training on Wednesday unscathed, he’d be “a good chance” to return for a game before the Dockers’ finals campaign.
Griffin Logue remains in doubt for the clash with GWS after limping off the training track early on Wednesday.
The potential loss of the 24-year-old would be a big blow for Freo, given he was set to be the man to replace leading goalkicker Rory Lobb, who is “touch and go” to face the Giants due to a shoulder injury.
“(Lobb’s) obviously a bit sore but we’re treating this game as the most important game of the year so we want to put our best team out there and give it our best chance of winning,” Longmuir said.
“He was subbed out of the game and was a bit sore in a couple of areas.
“We’ll see what he does at training and decide what his plans for the weekend are after that.”
Plus there’s fresh concerns over Griffin Logue, who left training early on Wednesday due to a leg complaint.
With Matt Taberner expected to return in finals, Josh Treacy still coming back from a virus and first-year player Jye Amiss only one game into his WAFL return, the Dockers could enter Saturday’s game thin on key-position stocks.
The GIANTS will be without Tanner Bruhn (concussion) and Lachlan Keeffe (groin) to face Fremantle, but could get both Tim Taranto and James Peatling back from concussion protocols.
Ruck Braydon Preuss faces a fitness test after missing last week’s loss to the Bulldogs due to a shoulder injury.
NORTH MELBOURNE could lift itself off the bottom of the AFL ladder with a final-round win over Gold Coast, but will have to do so without captain Jack Ziebell, Jed Anderson and most likely Jaidyn Stephenson.
Ziebell had surgery after hurting his AC joint, Anderson has entered the AFL‘s concussion protocols, while Stephenson sustained a heavy hit to his back in the third quarter last Saturday weekend and is also set to miss the final game.
However the Kangaroos could re-call No. 1 pick Jason Horne-Francis, who responded to his shock demotion to the VFL with 29 disposals, nine clearances and six marks against Coburg.
“He wasn’t able to implement his recovery protocols to the level which needed to be done and that’s a rule we have got for our whole footy club. They were the consequences for Jason last week,” Roos caretaker coach Leigh Adams said on Wednesday.
“We had a really good, honest chat about it last week, he understood where we were coming from. He went back and had a really solid game. His attitude has been fantastic.
“He’ll be right in calculations to come back in to the team this week. Not certainly … he’ll be thereabouts because his game and his attitude was great on the weekend.”
GOLD COAST is unlikely to have gun small forward Izak Rankine available for Saturday’s match against North Melbourne.
Rankine hasn’t trained this week after suffering a shoulder injury during the Suns’ loss to Geelong last weekend, placing him in major doubt for the match against the Kangaroos.
Suns coach Stuart Dew said Rankine, who’s weighing up a multi-year offer from the Adelaide Crows, would likely need surgery during the post-season.
“If he’ not right, he’s not right,” Dew told reporters on Wednesday.
“In terms of whether it’s his last game or not, that’s hypothetical.
“We know he‘s got a decision at the end of the season but I think the main part is all that external stuff is not going to come into the decision of whether he plays or not.
“If he‘s fit to play, he plays, and, if the risk is too great, player’s welfare comes first.”
The Suns will also be without Sam Day (knee), Nick Holman (back) and Rory Atkins (concussion) for the clash against North.
GEELONG will have to find a replacement for superstar forward Jeremy Cameron for Saturday’s clash against the West Coast Eagles.
Cameron suffered a low-grade hamstring strain during the final quarter of his side’s win over Gold Coast. It’s the same leg in which he suffered three hamstring setbacks in 2021.
Rhys Stanley will also miss the match due to an adductor strain, with fellow ruck Jon Ceglar and fringe big man Esava Ratugolea in the mix to replace Stanley.
Veterans Mitch Duncan and Isaac Smith should also come back into the side after being managed against the Suns.
WEST COAST star Andrew Gaff is in doubt for the trip to Geelong after limping off the training track on Tuesday.
Gaff was seen favouring his left foot while speaking to medical staff during the club’s session.
The Eagles are already set to be without superstar ruckman Nic Naitanui, who’s battling soreness in the final rounds of the season, but forward Willie Rioli is in the mix to play, while Bailey Williams would likely come in for Naitanui.
They’re also expected to regain Tim Kelly and Jai Culley from suspension for Saturday’s clash at GMHBA.
Small defender Jamaine Jones could still take his place in the side against Geelong, despite being subbed off against Fremantle with a back issue.
Jake Waterman (knee) won’t play after undergoing surgery on his knee.
“Jake has been troubled by his knee but continued putting his hand up to play and has been a strong contributor in the back half of the year,” Eagles football manager Gavin Bell said.
“Unfortunately, his knee got to the point where it was becoming more restrictive and it was necessary to send Jake for surgery.”
Dan Hannebery is one of three ST KILDA players trying to prove their fitness for Sunday’s showdown with Sydney as he fights for his AFL career.
But defender Jimmy Webster is out of the Swans clash after suffering a hamstring strain in last week’s 15-point defeat to Brisbane.
Hannebery, 31, is out of contract at season’s end after scattering only 17 games across four seasons at St Kilda since his high-profile trade from the Swans.
Soft-tissue setbacks have marred his time at Moorabbin but he showed he still has something to offer when fit with an impressive 27-disposal, one-goal outing in his first game of the year three weeks ago.
An ankle injury a week later against Geelong was Hannebery’s latest problem and caused him to miss the Lions game but only needs to negotiate the Saints’ main training session on Thursday to return.
Josh Battle (cork) and Tom Highmore (hand) are in the same situation, but the Saints have ruled out Jack Billings (back), Paddy Ryder (calf), Dan McKenzie (calf) and Oscar Adams (back).
Hannebery took a significant pay cut this season in the last of his four-year deal to help clear salary cap space and in an acknowledgment of the fact he had underdelivered because of injuries.
It’s believed the one-time star midfielder wants to extend his career into next season but his best chance may be on a rookie deal.
SYDNEY appears settled at selection, with one of the AFL’s shortest injury lists and most players in strong form.
Swans ruck recruit Peter Ladhams looms as a potential finals wildcard after returning through the VFL in the past fortnight after breaking his right thumb. But Tom Hickey has enjoyed an outstanding couple of weeks, while Sam Reid continues to serve as the relief ruckman and has kicked more than a goal a game this season.
Swans great Josh Kennedy (hamstring) is still a few weeks away from resuming full training and seems long odds to be a part of the club’s finals campaign.
MELBOURNE will be basically full strength for their top-four blockbuster against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Friday night.
But the hosts will once again head into battle without key duo Callum Ah Chee and Marcus Adams who have both been ruled out due to concussion for the second week in a row.
PORT ADELAIDE champion Robbie Gray will return for Showdown 52 against Adelaide on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval in what will be the retiring superstar’s final game.
Gray was managed last weekend and sat out the Power’s 84-point annihilation of Essendon at Marvel Stadium.
The CROWS will have to make do without Shane McAdam (hamstring), but they are hopeful Wayne Milera (back) will be available.
“It’s a reasonable strain, it’s hard to tell how long he would be out for if it was during the middle of the season but he will need a process of rehabilitation to get himself right for pre-season,” Crows high performance manager Darren Burgess said of McAdam.
“Shane has been playing really well and he only told me today that he’s never played in a Showdown and was really looking forward to it so it’s a big loss for us.
“Junior (Milera) jagged his back on Wednesday after training and stirred it up a little bit.
“On Friday he tried to complete most of the captain’s run and woke up sore on Saturday morning so we took the conservative measure and didn’t play him, but he’s presented really well this week and hopefully he’ll train on Wednesday and be available on Saturday night.”
If WESTERN BULLDOGS’ Norm Smith medallist Jason Johannisen wants to play against Hawthorn in Launceston on Sunday, he will have to pass a fitness test this week to prove that he has sufficiently overcome an ankle injury sustained at training a couple of weeks ago.
Key position player Buku Khamis is in a similar boat to Johannisen after suffering a head knock in the VFL last week.
HAWTHORN’s massive injury list received a new addition on Wednesday with dashing defender Jarman Impey ruled out of the season finale due to ankle surgery.
“He’s had a screw in his foot that has been causing him trouble for 10 or 12 weeks probably,” Hawks coach Sam Mitchell said.
“He’s had his surgery already, which means he’ll be able to start pre-season strong, which will be important for him.
“He’s such an important player for us, and we just wanted to get it done as soon as we can.
“He did a great job carrying screws in his foot for that long.”
CARLTON are hoping to regain Adam Cerra (adductor) and Zac Williams (calf) for their cut-throat blockbuster against arch rivals Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday.
SEN’s Sam Edmund says Cerra trained away from the main group on Wednesday.
“They do expect Adam Cerra to be there with that adductor… but he couldn’t do full training,” Edmund said.
“I think it’s far more likely (Williams) plays VFL than AFL this weekend.”
George Hewett continues his return from his back problem and trained fully with the main group for the second successive week.
“He’s only a very outside chance at best,” Edmund said.
But the news wasn’t as good for midfielder Matthew Kennedy who has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to foot surgery, having already missed the last couple of games because of a jaw injury.
Meanwhile, the MAGPIES are confident of regaining Jordan De Goey who was a late withdrawal against Sydney last round due to a hip issue.
“(Jordan) will be given as much time as possible to play this weekend,” the club said in a statement.
“He completed a running session on Tuesday and his straight line running looks good – he will be assessed later this week and there is some level of confidence he will be available for selection.”
De Goey could serve as a replacement for Jack Ginnivan who was subbed out last weekend after injuring his hamstring and is “pretty unlikely”, according to coach Craig McRae.
“He had some real signs in his hamstring … he couldn’t function at the level required to play,” Jarrod Wade. Pies high performance manager, said.
“He got scans and luckily he’s been cleared of any structural damage which is really positive signs.
“It’s like the first box ticked. He was able to get into some training (on Wednesday). He’s at about 80-85 per cent as far as speed output.
“We’ll assess (him) on Friday.”
Taylor Adams (groin) won’t feature on Sunday, with the club putting a line through the midfielder until at least the first week of finals.
Nathan Kreuger could also be in the mix for finals contention as he battles back from a serious shoulder injury.
— with NCA Newswire