Daniher at peace with AFL form criticism

Michael Ramsey
Essendon star Joe Daniher revealed a debilitating groin injury has affected his AFL form

Essendon star Joe Daniher has no issue with the torrent of criticism he's faced over his AFL form while privately struggling with a debilitating groin injury.

The Bombers have ruled Daniher out for at least the next month with scans showing the 24-year-old has early onset osteitis pubis.

Daniher kicked 65 goals last year to make the All-Australian team for the first time and take out his first club best-and-fairest award.

But with Essendon languishing in 15th place with a 2-5 record, Daniher became a whipping boy in the media and with fans after kicking eight goals in seven games.

Former Melbourne captain Garry Lyon suggested Daniher was not working hard enough for his teammates, while Bombers great Tim Watson said the 200cm spearhead had become "caught up in a bubble of his own performance".

Daniher on Wednesday refused to blame his poor form on the injury, saying the criticism had been justified.

"I couldn't get a kick. I think you guys all knew that," he told reporters.

"There's no blame at all. Footy's a tough industry, (especially) if we're not performing the way we want to perform.

"You sign up for (scrutiny) as an AFL player and I've got a strong group of coaches around me, a strong group of people that influence the way I think about the game and I'm really confident with the networks that I've got to lean on."

Daniher had been dealing with the groin issue since the end of last season, and coach John Worsfold said the forward's workload had been carefully managed since a setback in round two.

The decision to put him on ice was made when he pulled up sore after last week's loss to Hawthorn.

Essendon have their midyear bye in five weeks' time but Worsfold said Daniher remained a chance to face Brisbane in the preceding round.

"(The goal is to) manage what can potentially turn into a chronic injury, manage it as best we can to clear it up, and do that as quickly as we can and get Joe back playing," Worsfold said.

"We certainly won't rush. We want to get it right to the extent we can."

Cale Hooker, who played as a key forward last year but has been redeployed to the backline this season, looms as a potential replacement for Daniher over the next month, as does fringe forward Shaun McKernan.

Worsfold said goalsneak Orazio Fantasia was a chance to return from a groin issue to face Carlton at the MCG on Saturday.