Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir is hopeful star defender Brennan Cox will make an appearance this pre-season as he struggles to overcome an infection in his knee.
The Dockers coach revealed Cox recently injured himself in a skateboarding accident, but the injury worsened when the defender’s scab became infected.
“We think the Adelaide game, he’ll play,” Longmuir said.
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“It’s one of those things, the infection has looked like it’s cleared up, he’s got on top of the swelling and now it’s about making sure we don’t put him out there too early and put him at risk of him injuring another part of his body.
“He had a skateboarding incident and a scab got infected which wasn’t ideal, but he will be okay.
“We’ll just make sure we really build him up the right way.”
Cox was spotted walking and jogging laps at training last week as he was held out of the main group session. He was once again on light duties this week.
Longmuir says young Nathan O’Driscoll is also racing to prove his fitness due to a foot issue.
“The Adelaide game would be pushing the timeframe,” Longmuir said.
COACH ADMITS FEARING WORST AMID EAGLES’ FORWARD BLOWS
The last thing West Coast needed on the back of Josh Kennedy’s retirement was to lose fellow forward Jack Darling long-term.
There were fears that could be the case after Darling was reportedly sent for more scans on the ankle he injured in last week’s intra club scratch match.
But coach Adam Simpson on Tuesday revealed Darling had “dodged a bullet”.
“We feared for the worst last Friday and we got some pretty good news so we don’t expect it to be too severe,” Simpson said.
“He will be touch and go for Round 1 but knowing the way he is, I think he will be okay.
“So no surgery, just an ankle and we’ll see how he is in the next couple of weeks. It took us a bit of a time to get to where we needed to with scans and then extra scans. We will take it pretty easy with him but hopefully we have dodged a bullet.
“This time last year we had Dom (Sheed), Campbell Chesser and Oscar Allen and none of those guys played. So the bruising we got from last year, there are those fleeting moments that come into your mind. But we have to stay resilient; injuries are going happen and we’re just hoping for a better run at it – which we have, it’s just when you get one of those you do worry a bit.
“He’s a good healer and he will be fit and ready to go when he’s right.”
Darling’s foot got caught in a Jeremy McGovern tackle, with witnesses reporting the star “screamed out” before he was immediately taken from the field.
Darling and Kennedy have been the Eagles two key pillars in the last decade, and to lose of both at a time when the club is battling from last year’s 17th place finish is a massive blow.
Meanwhile Seven Perth’s Ryan Daniels reported Eagles forward Jack Williams remains in hospital two days after an “innocuous tackle” at training on Tuesday.
He required a wheelchair for assistance and tests have since revealed a ruptured spleen.
While he is expected to make a full recovery the start of his season will be delayed.
Williams was taken with pick 57 in the 2021 draft and played one game last season, when the Eagles were ravaged with Covid outs in Round 2.
LIONS SKIPPER ON TRACK
Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko says he expects to play in both of the Lions’ pre-season games despite suffering a hamstring tear last week.
The 34-year-old had caught the eye with his slim build and increased running power in his 12th pre-season at the club but missed an intraclub match on Friday and may sit out a second this week at the Lions’ new Brighton Homes Arena headquarters.
“It’s a little bit of a setback but nothing to be overly concerned about – I just felt it a couple of weeks ago, and naturally we scan these things and we found a little tear in there,” Zorko said on SENQ.
“Fingers crossed I’ve missed (Friday’s intraclub match) and that’s about it.”
Zorko said he had been concerned about the potential for the injury lay-off to impact the work he had done on his troublesome achilles, which has hampered him in recent seasons.
“The best thing about it is I’ve been able to run the whole time, so I’ve been able to keep up my load on my achilles, which has been really important and something that I worried about probably a little bit at the start,” he said.
Zorko said Brisbane coach Chris Fagan had remained his “cool, calm and collected” self as he awaits the end of the independent investigation into allegations of racism at Hawthorn.
“He’s really energetic around the group like he always has been, and we as players have really appreciated it,” Zorko said.
Fagan is taking on the task of strengthening the Lions’ defence, which Zorko said was the club’s top focus over the pre-season after a “really poor” last 12 months.
“I think defensively last year, we just leaked too many points,” he said.
“There were three or four games that we conceded over 100 points, and in previous years we hadn’t done that.
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“Keeping teams under a certain amount, whether it’s 10 goals or 11 goals, roughly that’s the number that seems to win the premiership … Geelong did it last year, Melbourne did it the year before, so it’s a really important benchmark for us to try to achieve.”
Zorko, who is confident of playing in the Lions’ scratch match against Sydney on February 24, is no guarantee to lead the Lions again in 2023, as Harris Andrews and Hugh McCluggage are considered for the role.
Brisbane is also dealing with several injury concerns to key defenders, with Darcy Gardiner (shoulder) and Jack Payne (illness) working towards returns in Brisbane’s second practice match against Geelong on March 2 after Marcus Adams was placed on the inactive list due to concussion symptoms.
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PREMIERSHIP TIGER SIDELINED
Richmond forward Jason Castagna is set to miss the start of the 2023 AFL season after tearing his hamstring at training.
The club confirmed the three-time premiership Tiger’s diagnosis on Monday.
“Unfortunately Jason Castagna suffered what we believe is a medium-term hamstring tear during match play on Saturday,” the club said in a statement.
“He will begin his rehabilitation running progressions later this week.”
It’s a blow for Castagna after he was looking to cement his place in the side following a lean 2022 season.
The forward was held to just 16 games as he spent time instead in the VFL.
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BOMBERS GET MIXED INJURY NEWS
Essendon duo Matt Guelfi and Ben Hobbs have both been ruled out of the club’s practice match against the Gold Coast later this month.
Guelfi has been sidelined since scans revealed a strain in his calf last week.
But in some positive news for the forward, he’s back running as he rebuilds his fitness for Round 1.
But the news isn’t as positive for Hobbs, after he suffered a low-grade tear in his calf.
The club says Hobbs reported tightness in his calf last week, as an MRI scan confirmed the injury.
“Ben has completed a full pre-season up to this point and we expect him to recover quickly,” General Manager of Performance Daniel McPherson said.
“His calf has settled quickly and should only require a small de-load before he re-enters the program in the coming weeks.”
The Bombers will face the Suns on February 23.