19/04/2024

Andy McGrath is in the midst of a 14-day isolation. Photo: Essendon FC

Ben Rutten has provided an update on several injured stars, with Dylan Shiel ramping up his training but Andy McGrath's timeline remaining unclear.

The long-awaited return of star midfielder Dylan Shiel is nearing, with the smooth-mover set to increase his training loads this week. It isn’t such good news for Andy McGrath, whose 14-day isolation may set him back in his rehabilitation from a knee injury suffered in round 12.

Essendon coach Ben Rutten provided an update on Shiel (knee), Kyle Langford (hamstring), Harrison Jones (foot) and McGrath on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media, Rutten said that Shiel was making great progress, and there were opportunities to gain some match fitness in the coming weeks with the VFL set to resume this week. He also revealed Langford could possibly return this week from his hamstring injury if he can train through Wednesday and Friday.

“Training this week is going to be really important for Kyle [Langford}, also for Dylan Shiel who is getting really close to being available for us.

“Kyle obviously has played a lot of the season, but Dylan Shiel has missed a lot of footy, and it’s just about making sure we set him up to be successful and have a really strong, positive return for us. So that’ll play out a little bit throughout the course of this week and [they’ll] get through training and we’ll make some of those decisions towards the end of the week.”

Last week, the Essendon players who missed out on AFL selected combined with North reserves to play some sort of match simulation on the weekend. It’s a situation that has been all too familiar for football clubs in the past year, with the same practices being undertaken in Queensland last year with no lower level league.

The VFL is set to return in some capacity from this weekend.

“We had a really good hit-out for the guys who didn’t play last week. We had a bit of a combined game,” Rutten said.

“The guys performed really strongly and we found it was a really positive game for them. This week we’re gonna have – looking like – a VFL game. So there is going to be that possibility for anyone who’s not playing to be able to get a game in, which has been really important. Really helpful for everyone and for them to be able to keep maintaining their form.

“But we can also try and replicate training best we can, we try and do game specific – game-like drills in training anyway, but we can also top guys up throughout training as well. It’s a bit of a balancing act trying to put together our best program, and we’ll work that out throughout the course of the week and see how that goes.”

One of the casualties of the Victorian Covid cluster has been leader Andy Mcgrath. ‘Pidge’ was forced into isolation at the end of last week after visiting a tier one exposure site when he went to the Wallabies vs. France test match at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

In the midst of his 14-day quarantine period, Rutten said there would be few players in better spirits during this situation than the young gun.

“Pidge is a really positive, upbeat guy. He’s handling that as well as anyone could I think, he’s going to be able to find a way to keep his conditioning up to some level.

“[It’s] Certainly not exactly how we’d like it if he was in our program, but [I’m] not sure exactly [how quarantine impacts his rehabilitation]. He’s still got a brace on his knee and he’s still in early stages of his rehab.

“There’ll be a bit of a cost in terms of his return, but in terms of that final date, he’s still a little bit limited about what he can do anyway, so hopefully we don’t lose too much ground there.”

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Rutten continued to shed some light on the potential setback that McGrath may suffer due to the circumstance.

“He’s in a knee brace and we’re trying to make sure we get the best healing in that knee.

“I think there was a loose timeline that he would be able to return towards the end of the season, but that wasn’t definitive. As I said before, I’m not sure how much being in isolation is going to set him back timeline-wise because there was a period of time there where he is going to be pretty limited with his ability to run and kick and move the way he needs to.

“He’s able to keep a little bit of baseline conditioning going on his own, but we’ll see once he gets out and reassess that once he’s back in with our program.”

Rising Star nominee Harrison Jones was an unexpected omission from last weekend’s match with North Melbourne. He has been sporting a moon boot after scans revealed a stress reaction in his foot.

Rutten said the club had caught it early, so there was no fracture but a return to action had not been set as they give Jones time to rest his injury.

“We were able to pick up a bit of his foot stress pretty early,” he confirmed.

“We received some good information around the really early stages, so there’s been no kind of crack or fracture through there so that’s really positive new for Harry.

“Now we’re just sort of piecing together what that may look like, what are the potential options for his recovery and and his return. So we’re probably still got some good news on it, but we’re still probably yet to really pin down a timeline on him just yet, but it’s looking more positive.

The Bombers are readying themselves for a huge clash with the Giants that will have massive finals ramifications for both sides.

The full press conference is available here.

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