AFL: Essendon addresses injury woes after Jordan Ridley setback

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Essendon could be without Jordan Ridley until after its mid-season bye as coach Brad Scott says the Bombers will leave “no stone unturned” addressing their spate of soft-tissue injuries.

The star defender has entered a new rehab program after suffering another quad strain in the lead-up to the Bombers’ loss to Port Adelaide on Friday night.

Scott said Ridley would not play again until the club was satisfied he had “little to nil” chance of reinjuring the quad after a tear in a slightly different part of the muscle ruined the end of his 2023 campaign.

The Bombers will keep the faith in its fitness team following a fresh spate of soft tissue injuries which have sidelined a batch of the club’s most important players.

Ridley, Matt Guelfi, Archie Perkins and Zach Reid are all sidelined with various soft tissue setbacks and recurrences which have tested the club’s depth early this season.

Asked if there were issues overall on the injury front, coach Brad Scott said on Friday night “It is hard to sit here and say no”, and added the club would “need to go to work on that”.

But while the mounting injury toll has put heat on the football department to keep the stars out on the field, there are no staff changes or restructures on the cards.

Ridley’s setback came before a hamstring injury to emerging midfielder Archie Perkins against the Power that will force another midfield reshuffle for the Bombers ahead of a clash with an in-form Western Bulldogs engine room.

“It’s going to be a number of weeks (for Ridley) – you can pluck a number out … I don’t really focus too much on is it two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, it’s just making sure he takes the necessary steps in his rehab and has a really conservative build to get back in full training,” Scott said.

“Once he’s back in full training, then we can put a really accurate return to play date on it, but it’s going to be at least a few weeks, if not a bit more.

“He’s such an important player for us. When we get him back, we want him back fully fit with very little to nil chance of reinjury.

Scott said after the loss the Bombers would “go to work” on why several players had been struck down by injury early in the season but clarified on Tuesday it would not mean a significant review of their conditioning program.

“I was just responding to a direct question about a couple of soft-tissue injuries. They happen in the game. You look across the competition and you’re going to have some soft-tissue injuries, but they’re the ones we think we can have some impact on in terms of one, preventing them, and (two), preventing recurrences,” he said.

“We’ve got a few at the moment to pretty important players, so we’ll just keep working on the process to improve that because ideally you don’t have any injuries, but the reality is you’re always going to have some.

“We’ve just got to make sure we’re turning over every stone to make sure we’re getting everything right in our prep.”

The coach was adamant the 69-point loss was not a reflection of a lack of effort, as he credited the dominance of Power duo Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis at stoppages.

“Nothing’s ever behind you – this competition is brutal, it’s tight, it’s tough – the result was poor for us last Friday night,” Scott said when asked whether he thought the Bombers were beyond suffering heavy defeats.

“Two minutes to go in the second quarter, it’s game on, we had some poor passages of play and again, it’s difficult to say it wasn’t a lack of effort because any time you lose by 70 points it looks like a lack of effort.

“What we clearly identified was our pressure, our tackling. Wile the technique wasn’t perfect, our effort wasn’t actually the issue, execution was the issue.”

Midfielder Sam Durham is set to return against the Bulldogs on Friday night after he trained fully at Tullamarine on Tuesday following his concussion in round 3.

Dylan Shiel (oblique strain) is available, but Scott said Shiel would need to build up his match fitness through the VFL.