Essendon is hopeful Joe Daniher will be completely injury-free when he returns to AFL footy as they reveal the latest step in his rehab plus updates on Cale Hooker and a recruit’s new injury.
Essendon spearhead Joe Daniher will visit his groin specialist in Ireland to help the goalkicker sidestep the troubles that cruelled his return to the field last year.
The Bombers have not yet put a time frame on Daniher’s likely return but will get a clearer picture on his progress after he consults with Dr Andy Franklyn-Miller in Dublin next week.
Daniher played only 11 games in the past two seasons because of the recurring groin nightmare which contributed to his decision to request a trade to Sydney Swans last year.
Essendon is happy with the full-forward’s progress in recent months but wants the star father-son to check back in with his specialist before stepping up his training workload.
Essendon football manager Dan Richardson said the club was taking all steps to ensure Daniher was completely over his groin problems before he returns to playing.
“When he came back in the past he thought he was right but probably what happens with the demands of the game, the (groin) condition returned,” Richardson told the Herald Sun.
“The aim of all this is to — and there are no guarantees — set his body up to withstand it all.
“He is feeling pretty good, we just want to make sure that when he does return to play — and we don’t have any time frame on it yet — he can withstand the rigours of what is a really taxing game.”
Richardson said the club was hopeful Daniher, 26, could progress to the next phase of his rehab after the Ireland visit.
He was adamant “there has been no setback” to prompt the trip.
“He had a week over there before Christmas and he has been in regular contact and it is sort of just the progression to the next stage of that program,” he said.
“It’s a fairly intensive program around the strength and power development.
“So rather than do it all over the phone or on Skype we thought we would take the opportunity to get him over there to talk in person.”
Two months out from the start of the season, Daniher appears unlikely to play in the Bombers’ Round 1 clash against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium, with the club determined to take a cautious approach with the free agent.
While Daniher failed in his bid to be traded to the Swans last season, he is expected to try again at the end of the season under free agency rules.
But Richardson said Daniher’s attitude and application to his rehabilitation could not be faulted.
“He has been terrific, no doubt deep down he would rather be out there (in full) training as any player would, but outside of that he is a good frame of mind,” he said.
Essendon confirmed VFL recruit Mitchell Hibberd copped a knock to the knee at training on Thursday but Richardson said the club was hopeful the injury was only bone bruising.
Captain Dyson Heppell stepped up his return from post-season foot surgery when he completed some running at Tullamarine.
And swingman Cale Hooker is also working his way back from surgery to correct a hip ailment shortly before Christmas.
Hooker returned to training after his off-season break but reported some pain and restriction in his hip.
Richardson said the club was confident the operation had fixed the problem which had eaten into his pre-season.
“It wasn’t anything major but there was something impinging his hip,” he said.
“He is feeling pretty good but he is a little bit behind as a result of that surgery, after working out what that was reasonably late in the piece.”