Adam Cooney has urged former club Essendon to resist the temptation to play star recruit Jake Stringer predominately through the midfield.
Bombers strength and conditioning coach Justin Crow revealed this morning to SEN Mornings they envisaged the 23-year-old to spend significant game time in the middle, as they look to use his explosive breakaway speed.
The 2008 Brownlow Medallist believes Stringer may be exposed by the opposition the other way, via run and spread, and should be restricted to short cameos.
“I wouldn’t want him in the midfield too long,” Cooney said on SEN Drive.
“It’s probably the third year we’ve heard this. A couple of years the Bulldogs said it, ‘Jake’s come back in terrific shape, we want him to play more midfield time’.
“I think one stint, maybe two stints a quarter is max, and only three or four minutes, just to add that x-factor and burst through the midfield stoppage.
“I don’t see him as a genuine midfielder, certainly not a two-way running midfielder. I don’t think he’s got bursts of 8-9 minutes a quarter, because he would get exposed the other way.
Stringer recovered from a badly broken leg at junior level to be drafted with pick five in the 2012 Draft, and Cooney recalled how it had hampered his running in his early stages at the Western Bulldogs.
“I watched him run on the Alter-G treadmill and he was limped more than I did back in 2012, he looked horrendous,” he said.
“Even his first six months at the footy club every time we would warm up, it would take him 15-20 minutes to be able to run fluently, he had a limp up.”
He said while Stringer is running better now, a greater workload may place him at major risk of injury, particularly as he tore his hamstring twice in 2017.
“He’s a lot better now, but I wonder if you have a significant injury like that, if you’re sometimes sore in one leg you change your running gait…which puts pressure on other parts of your body,” Cooney said.
“I just worry if that could be a problem with Jake.”