Pre-season in a nutshell
The Bombers have spent their first three weeks back at the club but will next week head off-site, going to Barwon Heads on Victoria’s surf coast for a couple of days of meetings and a session at Ocean Grove Oval. With the addition of Ben Rutten as an assistant coach whose brief is to oversee the Bombers’ team defence and key position players, it is clear Essendon will be working on that area over summer in a bid to tighten up and match it with the best teams. Of note, Bomber fans have been enjoying excellent training reports from the likes of nackers and Deckham.
Josh Begley: Begley has reached the seven-month mark of his rehabilitation from a knee reconstruction. The aim is for the powerful medium forward to transition into the main training group after the club’s Christmas break.
Tom Bellchambers: The ruckman was one of only a handful of players to undergo surgery, with the big man requiring a shoulder operation. He is expected to rejoin full contact drills after the break in January.
Joe Daniher: Daniher has looked a little proppy at training since the club resumed its pre-season campaign, with the key forward still recovering from the osteitis pubis that ruined his 2018 campaign. The Bombers hope he will be back training with the main group in January.
Orazio Fantasia: A training accident saw Fantasia hurt his little finger, keeping him away from drills for the next few weeks. He is still able to complete all the running sessions and will wear his finger splint in the lead-up to Christmas.
Martin Gleeson: The Bombers missed Gleeson all of last year after he underwent ankle surgery after a mishap in the JLT Community Series. They hoped he would miss only three months originally, but is still some weeks away from participating in full training.
Dyson Heppell: Essendon has given its skipper a lighter start to the summer program after he was sore at stages throughout last season. He has mainly been training on the Bombers’ smaller oval at its Tullamarine headquarters getting his work in.
Luke Lavender: The young developing key-position player had shoulder surgery in the off-season but is progressing well and is also likely for full contact training in January.
Mason Redman: Redman will need a follow-up scan on his fractured ankle in coming days after youngster suffered the setback last week at training. The club was waiting for the swelling to dissipate before assessing how many months he will be out of action but it will severely impact his pre-season.
Devon Smith: The Bombers have given Smith some time on the sidelines at the start of this pre-season after a taxing year in 2018 that saw him play every game. He had endured a tough run of knee injuries prior to this year.
More Stringer midfield time?
Last year Stringer spent patches in the midfield before being predominantly switched forward in the second half of the year, and he has trained almost exclusively with the midfield group so far this pre-season. - Callum Twomey