ESSENDON has suffered a major blow, with star forward Devon Smith set to undergo knee surgery that will end his 2019 AFL season.
After consulting with a specialist, it has been confirmed the reigning best-and-fairest winner needs an operation to fix an injury suffered in the round-eight loss to Sydney.
Smith has managed a pre-existing posterior cruciate ligament problem in the same knee for the past two years and the club is almost certain to have it fixed at the same time.
“If he has the PCL fixed as well, the old injury corrected, then that’s a six- month down time,” coach John Worsfold told reporters on Tuesday.
“There’s Devon’s long-term health beyond football, there’s his long-term football career that’s taken into account, and those two things are a bigger priority than the immediate … there’s no doubt about that.
“He’s very disappointed that he’s not going to be playing footy for the remainder of this year, and we’re disappointed for him.
“But we’re really keen that he gets his knee fixed so that he can play good footy for a lot longer.”
The loss of the hard-tackling forward is another blow for an AFL attack that has struggled find rhythm due to injury this season.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the 10th-placed Bombers, who scrapped to a much-needed win over Fremantle last week, to improve to a 4-5 record.
After long stints on the sidelines, tall forwards Shaun McKernan (hamstring) and Mitch Brown (fractured wrist) are in the selection mix for Saturday night’s annual Dreamtime at the ‘G clash with Richmond at the MCG.
Defender Marty Gleeson won’t be considered for AFL selection, but he has been cleared for a return, most likely with limited minutes, in the VFL.
Gleeson’s last AFL appearance was in an elimination final loss to Sydney in 2017.
A major ankle injury ruined his 2018 season before a pre-season cheekbone fracture delayed his start to the 2019 campaign.
“He’s back this week and he’s pretty excited about it,” Worsfold said.
“The injury he had with that little fracture, he just had to avoid any accidental knocks so he hasn’t been able to join in training, but he’s been able to run and do full workloads.
“It won’t take him long to be putting his hand up for (AFL selection).”
© AAP 2019