Experienced Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel could miss the start of the 2024 AFL season as he recovers from knee and foot surgeries.
But there is better news for a host of teammates, including off-season recruits Ben McKay (knee) and Xavier Duursma (hip), who are set to re-join the Bombers' main training group in coming weeks.
Jake Stringer (foot), Peter Wright (foot) and cult figure Sam Draper (groin) are also on modified running programs but will be reintegrated to full training in coming weeks.
Shiel, who battled injuries and managed just 12 games last season, including two as the substitute, won't resume full running again until late February.
The timeline puts the 30-year-old in doubt for the Bombers' round-one date with Hawthorn on March 16.
It comes after several clubs were linked with trade moves for ex-GWS midfielder Shiel, who ultimately remained with Essendon.
The Bombers on Wednesday gave positive updates on key backs Jordan Ridley (quad) and Jayden Laverde (thumb), who have recovered from injuries and are enjoying good runs at pre-season training.
So too is young defender Zach Reid, a former No.10 draft pick, who has recovered from back and hamstring injuries that plagued him in 2023.
Harrison Jones (back/ankle) is expected to return to full training next week, while Nik Cox (ankle) faces a gradual reintroduction.
Ruckman Nick Bryan (thumb) is also on a modified program but expected to return to full training before the end of the year.
Lively forward Tex Wanganeen, the son of club great Gavin, underwent foot surgery at the end of last season and will start running again in December.
The 20-year-old is expected to resume full training by February.
Australian Associated Press