ESSENDON is set to regain Orazio Fantasia for their pivotal AFL clash with Port Adelaide but skipper Dyson Heppell remains in doubt as he continues to struggle with a foot injury.
Fantasia will return after two weeks out with a hip complaint, but coach John Worsfold told reporters the club’s medical staff continue to grapple with Heppell’s genetic foot issue.
The 27-year-old has previously had a pin inserted in his right foot to stabilise an unfused growth plate and will likely require the same procedure on his left.
But with a finals tilt in the offing, the Bombers are keen to nurse the influential midfielder through.
“We’re trying to make it sustainable,” Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday.
“We could have ruled him out and fixed his foot with surgery four weeks ago and the season’s over for him, but it’s not one of those injuries that you can’t manage through.
“If it pulls up all right he can still get some more footy in, so that’s the plan.”
Heppell, who has missed three of the past four matches, trained early on Wednesday before the main group arrived at the club as he struggles to shake off a cold.
Fantasia missed come-from-behind wins over Adelaide and Gold Coast that have helped Essendon to seventh on the ladder with an 11-7 record.
Worsfold said the rest had helped the dynamic forward get on top of his hip issue but conceded he will need to be carefully managed for the rest of the campaign.
“My understanding is that it is something that will need to be corrected at the end of the season,” the coach said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s common but there are a lot of players who have had hat surgery, so absolutely we’ll just manage him through it.
“Like all these little niggles, you don’t know how they’re going to pull up after games.
“I can’t predict that but we’ll manage it as best we can.”
The Bombers will be out to consolidate their hold on a top-eight spot when they host the Power at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
© AAP 2019