Injury-smashed Bombers seeing light at end of tunnel
Spearhead Peter Wright is set to return before the AFL bye, in some respite to injury-ravaged Essendon as they attempt to get to the bottom of a series of back-stress fractures.
The Bombers have lost four straight games as they deal with a lengthy injury list, including a decimated back line and a calf strain to midfielder Darcy Parish.
Will Setterfield will miss Saturday night's clash with Richmond after suffering a foot fracture in last week's loss to Brisbane.
The big-bodied midfielder had his foot trodden on, and the Bombers say he will be out for a "number of weeks".
Young tall forward Harrison Jones was recently sidelined indefinitely with a back-stress fracture, while prized draft picks Zach Reid and Nik Cox have also had lengthy lay-offs with the same issue.
In reviewing those back injuries, the Bombers have turned to Cricket Australia, who managed skipper Pat Cummins through similar early career stress fractures.
"Our guys have just got to explore every option to review our program to see if there's anything," coach Brad Scott said.
"It's rare to have three guys with similar-type injuries and they're similar types of players, all three are around about that 200cm mark.
"So is it something in our program? Is it just something that the boys have been dealing with individually and it's more of a coincidence?
"But we've just got to look at every option to make sure that we're providing the best environment and it's frustrating to have three guys with similar injuries and they've been long-term.
"So it's just part of due diligence and making sure that we're exploring everything we can."
Defender Jordan Ridley will return from concussion against Richmond on Saturday but Jake Kelly is still experiencing symptoms so will miss another week.
Wright, who dislocated his shoulder before round one, was expected to miss half the season.
The bone has healed quicker than expected, setting him up to return within the next month.
Essendon face Richmond, West Coast, North Melbourne and Carlton before the bye.
Wright trained on Wednesday in a non-contact fluoro hat along with Laverde (AC joint), while top draft pick Elijah Tsatas (knee) is tracking well.
"We're probably in a phase where we've been frustrated with losing a couple of players but the silver lining is we've been able to expose some other players in roles and opportunities they wouldn't have got otherwise," Scott said.
"But the good news is we do have a lot of players who are closing in on a return. Peter Wright's well ahead of schedule so there's a possibility that he'll be back before our bye.
"Jayden Laverde's ahead of schedule as well. (Elijah) Tsatas had a really good surgical review so he'll join in full training today. So there's a lot of positivity on the injury front.
"But right now, there's no doubt we've been challenged."