Bombers to build Stringer towards AFL return

Anna Harrington |

Coach Brad Scott insists Essendon were not prepared to gamble on rushing Jake Stringer back into their AFL side despite concerns over a toe injury to key forward Sam Weideman.

Stringer has been named to play in the VFL instead of facing Gold Coast on Sunday after missing round one following a pre-season hamstring injury.

“It’s just part of the build for Jake,” Scott told reporters on Friday. 

“He was medically available for round one but we just really felt he needed another solid week of of training, which he did. He’s matched and exceeded game loads at training.

“We just want to set him up to play his best. There’s definitely a temptation to look at the team on paper and think, ‘Gee, we’re a better side with Jake in it’ but you’ve got to give players the opportunity to be the best they can be. 

“He will attract some attention when he comes back in and I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do to bring a player in of his calibre when he’s not absolutely 100 per cent and had a really good prep. 

“It just fits in with our approach of not taking any shortcuts and not looking short-term.”

Stringer is due to play a full game in the VFL – though that could change given the AFL team only has a six-day turnaround before facing St Kilda in round three.

Scott said the dynamic forward didn’t need to tick any additional boxes at training.

Weideman was in a moon boot earlier in the week and trained lightly with Essendon’s rehab group on Friday before heading inside.

He booted two goals on debut against Hawthorn and will be a crucial pillar up forward, with spearhead Peter Wright (shoulder) sidelined until at least mid-season.

“The likelihood is we’ll give him right up until Sunday morning to prove his fitness,” Scott said.

The Bombers opted not to risk Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, who had quad soreness following his return as the substitute in round one.

“In 15 minutes of footy he’s picked up a little bit of soreness,” Scott said. 

“Which the medical staff aren’t concerned about long term, but just based on a whole range of factors, his last 600 days, it’s just the prudent thing to do to make sure that he’s right. And he’s not perfect, so we ruled him out pretty quick

“He ran yesterday so he’ll be able to do a bit over the next week or so and hopefully he’ll be right next week.”