Bombers hit personnel hurdle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers hit personnel hurdle

By Roger Vaughan 16/05/2011 07:34:21 PM Comments (0)

James Hird has hit the first major hurdle in his debut season as an AFL coach, with Essendon's depth of talent now in the spotlight.

In-form captain Jobe Watson is out with a hamstring injury and tagger Heath Hocking is facing at least a three-match suspension.

Henry Slattery is also out of Saturday night's Dreamtime At The `G clash against Richmond with a hip injury, while tall utility Michael Hurley is a doubtful starter as he battles to recover from a foot problem.

Essendon are third after five wins and a draw from their opening eight matches and are on a three-game winning streak.

But their personnel problems boost the chances of an upset Tigers win.

The Bombers will now be without the top three players from last year's best and fairest voting.

Watson won the Crichton Medal and Hocking was second, while third-placed Jason Winderlich suffered a season-ending knee injury in last month's draw with Carlton.

The Bombers skipper is their No.1 midfielder and had been among the Brownlow Medal favourites after the opening third of the season.

Watson was diagnosed on Monday with a grade-one hamstring strain after he came off in the second term of Saturday night's win over Brisbane at the `Gabba.

The Bombers were hopeful their No.1 midfielder might still come up for Saturday night's Dreamtime At The `G clash against Richmond.

But Watson could still be out of the side for the round-11 game against Melbourne, which follows the Richmond game and Essendon's bye.

"Very disappointing news, we were hoping it was just back related but the scans show a grade-one hamstring strain," Essendon football manager Paul Hamilton said on the club's website.

"He will definitely miss this week, then we have the bye and he'll be touch and go for the Melbourne game so we'll have to wait and see."

The match review panel predictably took a dim view of Hocking's elbow to the head of Brisbane opponent James Polkinghorne on Saturday night at the `Gabba.

It was rated as a level-five offence and earnt Hocking a four-game ban, although he can reduce the penalty to three matches with an early plea.

Hurley and Slattery were late withdrawals from the Brisbane match and Slattery will definitely miss another game.

The Bombers are hopeful that Hurley will recover in time for the Richmond match, but know they cannot rush him back.

Hamilton said Hurley's injury is unusual, explaining that he has soreness in a muscle that links to the main toe.

"We'll assess him again later in the week - it's one of those (injuries) where the doctors and the fitness staff really have to make a good call," Hamilton said.

"We don't want it to inflame it and make it a long-term injury, so we'll leave that decision probably until Thursday."

One good piece of news for the Bombers is that midfielder Brent Stanton will probably return from a week out with concussion.

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