Five players rejoin main training, positive signs for Cox and Phillips

Five Essendon players who were late withdrawals against Hawthorn last Saturday night are on the mend and training ahead of the Dons’ clash with Sydney.

Jordan Ridley, Jake Kelly, Sam Durham, Matt Guelfi and Alec Waterman all fell ill in the days before the Bombers’ victory over Hawthorn and were unable to take their place in the selected side.

Head of high performance Sean Murphy said all players have returned to the club and will put their best foot forward for availability this weekend.

“Those five lads are all improving which is great,” Murphy told Essendon FC’s Liberty Financial Performance Update.

“They were in (at the club) on Tuesday, trained with the boys and they’re building across the program for the week. Hopefully we’ll see them this weekend, but all things are tracking well for them.”

Forward Devon Smith will be re-assessed and managed after courageously putting his hand up to play due to the Dons’ shortage of players.

The 28-year-old will continue to build on the strength program he was doing before the unexpected call-up.

“Dev entered a mini rehab program for his knee,” Murphy said.

“Everything’s going well. He’s had a degenerative knee which we saw an opportunity to get a bit of strength work into that.

“He hadn’t shut down and was right to play. When the call came through that we were needing a few more boys, he was more than happy to step in, and he performed well on the night.

“Now we’ll just manage him and see what the week looks like for him.”

Versatile tall Nik Cox will look to put his hand up for selection this week as he overcomes an ankle injury.

All signs are positive for the 20-year-old after being unavailable for round eight due to a shortened break between games.

“’Coxy’ didn’t quite get up with that ankle,” Murphy said.

“The six-day turnaround wasn’t quite ideal for him, so he still has a bit of soreness in that ankle.

“He trained with the boys and we expect that to be (his ankle) ok across the week and it will give us a bit of an idea about his availability, but all things are looking good for this weekend.”

Ruckman Andrew Phillips will be available for selection this weekend after successfully overcoming his hamstring strain sustained in round five.

Despite promising signs last week, Murphy said the club paused Phillip’s return for an extra week to ensure the 30-year-old had the best chance of not re-injuring his hamstring.

“He (Phillips) had to tick off a few markers which he didn’t do in that main training session last week,” Murphy said.

“We just didn’t want to put that risk onto him (especially given) he’s had a couple of hamstring injuries in the past and with the age of ‘Flip’.

“He’ll be right and be available for selection this week.”

Watch round nine’s Liberty Financial Performance Update below.

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