Marchbank back after 1069 days, Stringer a chance for Dons

In today’s AFL briefing, your daily wrap of footy news:

  • Essendon’s Jake Stringer and Andrew McGrath are hopeful of a return for Friday night’s blockbuster contest against Carlton, who will welcome back Caleb Marchbank from the cold.
  • Demon Tom McDonald faces weeks on the sidelines as he undergoes foot surgery.
  • Daisy Pearce will take on an AFL coaching mentorship at Geelong once her playing days are over.
  • Matthew Lloyd says Essendon chief Xavier Campbell and list boss Adrian Dodoro should not be above scrutiny.
  • Nat Fyfe has indicated he will return to AFL in the forward line.
  • Adelaide chief executive officer Tim Silvers says Taylor Walker will soon be offered a contract.
  • And, in case you missed it,

Come back for updates throughout the day.

Stringer and McGrath hopeful of return, surgery for Demon McDonald

Andrew Wu and Nell Geraets

As Essendon prepare to welcome back Jake Stringer for Friday night’s clash with Carlton, Blues defender Caleb Marchbank will play his first senior game for 1069 days.

Carlton coach Michael Voss broke the news to the team at training last night. Marchbank last lined up for the Blues against Melbourne in round 16, 2019.

The talented backman missed the rest of that season with a neck fracture then had his 2020 season wiped out by bone bruising in his knee before having a knee reconstruction last year after an injury in the VFL.

Stringer has been sidelined since round seven after straining a hamstring at training, but is set to return just in time for the club’s 150-year celebration game.

The club’s head of high performance, Sean Murphy, said Stringer had adopted a careful approach.

He’s ticked off some good sessions over the last few weeks. Over the bye, he had a couple of solid sessions so he’s ready to go, Murphy said.

He’ll train fully at Wednesday’s main training, and he’ll be up for selection this weekend.

Teammate Andrew McGrath tweaked his groin during the Bombers’ main training session on Saturday morning, putting the midfielder’s availability into question.

We trained on the weekend and unfortunately Andy’s just tweaked that groin, Murphy said.

It’s not too bad, but we’ll use the week to assess how that comes up by main training later in the week and his availability for Friday.

McDonald goes under knife with dreaded Lisfranc injury

Michael Gleeson

Melbourne forward Tom McDonald will have foot surgery which the club hopes will still leave him a chance to be back for the reigning premier’s finals campaign this year.

McDonald will have a plate put in his foot to treat the serious Lisfranc injury.

The procedure is different to that had by Geelong defender Tom Stewart which saw him miss several months at the end of last year, but it is hoped McDonald will miss a similar length of time.

McDonald’s surgery will add a stabilising plate and give him the best chance to be back for finals.

Tom unfortunately was unable to train fully following the main training session last week and, following further scans, it was discovered that Tom had sustained a low-grade Lisfranc injury, the club’s performance manager Selwyn Griffith said.

Unfortunately for Tom, due to the instability of the Lisfranc joint, we consulted with multiple surgeons around the best course of action.

Tom and the medical team have decided to go with a small plate across the joint to stabilise the joint, which gives him the opportunity to play towards the back-end of this season.

The surgeons weighed up whether rest would settle the injury but decided surgery was required.

The other surgical option was for screws to be inserted in the foot. That operation normally involves about six months of recovery.

There is a chance that if the plate proves insufficient to repair the injury that McDonald could yet need to have screws inserted, but the plate option gives him the chance to return this year.

At Collingwood, young player Reef McInnes will have shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season.

McInnes dislocated his shoulder during the win over Hawthorn on Sunday.

He is the second Magpie after Nathan Kreuger to have season-ending shoulder surgery after a dislocation.

Daisy Pearce wins Geelong Cats coaching mentorship

Nell Geraets

Star AFLW player Daisy Pearce has won a mentorship under Geelong’s head AFL coach as part of a program launched by the AFL to get more women into coaching.

The AFL announced the nine successful applicants on Tuesday, confirming that each woman would not only receive formal mentorship from top coaches, but also have access to the coaches box on match day and participate in game-planning sessions and match committee meetings.

Geelong announced that Pearce will join the club once the Melbourne midfielder decides to hang up the boots, the time of which has not yet been confirmed. Pearce announced last month that she would .

I’m thrilled about coaching opportunities when my playing days at Melbourne have finished. When that is, honestly I’m not sure but coaching is something that excites me when the time is right, Pearce said.

I’m grateful for Geelong’s interest and Melbourne’s ongoing support.

Pearce, 33, was highly sought after across the women’s and men’s game for both her experience on the field and footy knowledge, and already works as a Channel 7 commentator. She was approached by for a coaching position, including Essendon, which the ten-time VFLW premiership player turned down.

Geelong’s general manager of football, Simon Lloyd, said Pearce has enormous potential to coach football at the highest level.

It’s a credit to the AFL for setting up the Women’s Coach Acceleration Program to assist with providing more opportunities for women in our game, and we will be delighted to have Daisy on board when the time is right, Lloyd said.

The positions will be co-funded by the clubs and the AFL, with exemptions in the soft football department spending cap over the two years. The female coaches will work for their club for at least two years between now and 2025, and will achieve a Level 3 AFL Coaching Accreditation as a minimum.

Formal mentorship with a senior men’s AFL coach will also be provided. It is expected that Pearce will work under Geelong senior coach Chris Scott, who is currently contracted until the end of 2024.

Alongside Pearce, the program will see the likes of Emma Zielke join the Brisbane Lions, Chloe McMillan join Collingwood and Bec Goddard join Hawthorn.

AFL general manager for women’s football, Nicole Livingstone, said the program was a major step towards the of having at least 50 per cent of AFLW senior coaching positions held by women.

The Women’s Coach Acceleration program will expedite the development of the industry’s best women coaches and increase the number of women in coaching roles across men’s and women’s programs, Livingstone said.

More than half of the coaches selected in the Women’s Coach Acceleration program are past or current AFLW players and with each season we will have more women with experience of playing at the elite level who are ready to transition into coaching and football roles.

Pearce was Melbourne’s inaugural captain from the AFLW’s inception in 2017, and recently announced she would play on for one more season as the Demons push for a premiership.

She is known as a thanks to her consistently high performance as Demons skipper, as well as a driving factor behind the resurgence of star forward Tayla Harris following her trade from Carlton in 2021.

Lloyd calls for independent Essendon review, says CEO, list manager should not be exempt

Jon Pierik

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd says it is time for the Bombers to conduct an independent, fearless review of their entire football operations, declaring chief executive Xavier Campbell and recruiting boss Adrian Dodoro should not be above scrutiny.

The Bombers have lurched from one drama to the next this season, .

However, president Paul Brasher has made it clear the review will not prompt wholesale change, as what happened at Carlton last year, but rather will likely prompt incremental change with additional resources added.

Lloyd, the former Essendon captain, champion goalkicker and now prominent commentator, was bemused as to why the Bombers had publicly announced a review when it was to be conducted by board members, despite Sheedy and Madden being two of the club’s greatest figures, and Wellman a premiership player.

I just don’t think there was any need for it. They should be reviewing every week, as they would be every month. I am not sure why you need to make it public, for starters, Lloyd said on Footy Classified.

I think now, for them to come out and say: ‘this area is OK, we just have to look at a development coach, maybe we look at this, maybe we look at that. ’ If we are going to do a review, I would bring in outsiders because I think it’s time everyone within the club opened up honestly. I think if you have internal people doing a review, you are always probably fearful that it could come back on you.

I think a review should be done where outsiders come in, and players can open up honestly on what they think of coaching, what they think of the club. I would love to see the fitness staff, because they are getting a lot of injuries, I would love to see list management. I would love to hear everyone open up.

– who guided the club into the finals last season – is safe regardless of the findings. The Bombers have gone back to basics with their game plan in recent weeks.

Campbell, who has survived several internal ructions since taking charge during the supplements scandal in 2014, was recently re-signed for two years, the club admitting it should have released this information to members rather than many finding out through the media.

List and recruiting boss Dodoro, who has been at the club in several roles since 1998, has been under pressure for his recent trades, . However, he has had successes, with Jake Stringer pivotal to last season’s finals appearance.

If common themes come, no one should be saying: ‘yeah, he is going OK because he is a CEO, we have signed him for two years, Adrian Dodoro is OK’. We may as well not have mentioned there is going to be a review, Lloyd said.

In my opinion, if you are going to do one [a review], the time has come for people to be honest. Otherwise, you just make the odd change here or there. You don’t really get anywhere.

Lloyd said the Bombers needed to lure someone of the ilk of Mark Williams to the club. Williams, the former Port Adelaide premiership coach, has been a key figure in unifying and developing Melbourne’s premiership list.

Essendon’s on-field issues were highlighted when

I’m not confident [the leaders are unified]. They’re not playing like that, I don’t mind Darcy Parish challenging senior players, but you can see signs it isn’t great, Lloyd said.

In a week when the Bombers should be celebrating their 150th anniversary ahead of Friday night’s clash against Carlton, the lingering pain of the supplements saga a decade ago has also resurfaced.

Fyfe’s forward thinking

David Prestipino
Fremantle skipper and dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe has revealed a transformation from his midfield role ahead of a likely return to the AFL this weekend after multiple surgeries and 11 months on the sidelines.

Speaking to Fox Footy’s On The Couch, the 30-year-old revealed recent rehabilitation had humbled his ego, and combined with rapid development of the club’s impressive recruiting had forced him to rethink his impact on the 9-3 Dockers.

Coach Justin Longmuir has the team humming in his third year, well in premiership contention, and Fyfe has seen it all unfold from the sidelines and coaches box, far removed from the intense focus of on-field battle.

Fyfe indicated a short-term move forward benefited the team and his tenure as an AFL force. He now believes his biggest asset to Fremantle’s quest, in the final years of his career, is as mentor rather than menacing elite midfielder.

We’ve got so many good young players and our job is to provide that leadership that they bring our club to a position we haven’t been to, he said.

We’ve been very methodical with our list management strategy for a while, assembling a crew, which is what you need to be a good finals-contending team for a number of years, he said.

The excitement has been building internally for a while. You can only be patient and hope that it will turn.

Tex to be offered contract extension

Jon Pierik
Former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker will soon be offered a new contract in the hope the veteran forward finishes his career at West Lakes.

Walker, 32, is off contract this season and could chase a deal with a club in the premiership window. He has been linked with Brisbane, while he could also be tempted to shift to a Melbourne-based club.

However, Crows’ chief executive officer Tim Silvers said on Tuesday Walker would soon be offered a contract extension.

We haven’t formalised negotiations, but he knows that we want him as part of our future for next year, Silvers told Adelaide radio station 5AA.

And I am sure it’s not too far away from formalising a contract with Taylor.

The Crows backed Walker this year . He has booted 21 goals this season.

It’s like groundhog day in some ways. Exactly this time last year when we hit the bye, we started to commence formal discussions with Michael Doughty, his management, and we bedded down a contract really quickly, Silvers said.

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