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Hooker to miss season start

March 5, 2019 4:30 pm in by

ESSENDON veteran Cale Hooker is out of their AFL season opener and could be missing in action until round five.

Hooker will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a calf strain, ruling him out for the Bombers’ round-one clash with GWS at Spotless Stadium on March 24.

The 30-year-old swingman suffered the strain during training as he prepared to return from another injury problem in Essendon’s final pre-season hit-out against Geelong on Thursday night.

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“Cale was making positive inroads from an unrelated hamstring complaint, but unfortunately this setback will now impact his availability for round one,” general manager of football Dan Richardson said.

“Although the setback is clearly not ideal, he remains extremely diligent in his training and preparation.”

It’s a major blow for Essendon’s early season prospects as coach John Worsfold attempts to avoid a repeat of last season’s slow start.

The recovery timeline puts the 2014 All-Australian back pocket on pace to return for the club’s round-three clash against Melbourne at best or the round-five meeting with North Melbourne at worse.

Hooker was a key forward cog for the Bombers last season after All-Australian Joe Daniher was sidelined from round eight onwards with osteitis pubis.

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Despite often having his set-shot troubles, Hooker has booted 75 goals in the past three seasons as a semi-regular forward with a safe pair of hands.

Boom recruit Dylan Shiel has pulled up fine from a corked quad and will likely feature in Thursday’s final tune-up along with Orazio Fantasia, who sat out the Carlton clash with a minor cork issue.

© AAP 2019

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