Conor McKenna cleared to play Friday despite virus breach

Conor McKenna is set to return after serving a one-game ban. Pic: Getty

Conor McKenna is free to play for Essendon against Collingwood on Friday night, despite being suspended for breaching AFL coronavirus protocols.

His one-match ban for what the league deemed a 'minor' breach was ruled to have been served in the Bombers' round-four loss to Carlton, which McKenna missed while he was in quarantine.

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The Irish defender visited his former host family on the afternoon of June 19, after a COVID-19 test that morning, and did so without gaining approval for the visit.

The test was confirmed as positive the following morning and led to Essendon's match against Melbourne being postponed indefinitely.

McKenna was immediately sent into quarantine and has since returned three negative COVID-19 results.

Teammate James Stewart was also forced to quarantine after being deemed a "close contact" of McKenna.

The AFL on Monday said the cause of McKenna's positive test had not yet been determined.

The league also investigated McKenna's attendance at rental inspections but will not penalise him over that matter.

McKenna was initially picked to play against Melbourne and while he could now return in the Collingwood clash, Zach Merrett will miss out.

Conor McKenna's virus saga has caused plenty of confusion. Pic: Getty

Merrett banned for careless conduct

The midfielder on Monday accepted a one-match ban for the punch that landed Carlton's Jack Silvagni in hospital.

Silvagni suffered a fractured rib and bruised lung in the incident, which occurred during the Blues' one-point win over Essendon at the MCG on Saturday night.

Merrett's action was graded by the match review officer as careless conduct with high impact to the body.

It sparked furious debate over what many, including Silvagni, deemed a fairly innocuous football incident.

"Shame to see Zach get a week," Silvagni tweeted on Monday.

"Incidents like that happen 20-30 times a game.

"He hit a sweet spot and (the) outcome is just unlucky, no malicious intent whatsoever."

Match review officer Michael Christian said Merrett's "careless" act put him at risk of suspension.

"You're certainly allowed to put pressure on players to try and unbalance them, but in this particular case I believe that his action was a careless one, and the conduct was exactly that -- a careless striking action," Christian said.