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The medical room: How is your club faring this pre-season?


After a few of their best players started slowly this pre-season due to injury, the Crows are nearing full fitness as the NAB Challenge approaches. Sam Jacobs (elbow), Nathan van Berlo (shoulder), Cam Ellis-Yolmen (finger) all had minor surgeries late last year, while the club continued a cautious approach to Brad Crouch (foot). All have entered full training, with only Ricky Henderson (back) and Andy Otten (knee) still in rehabilitation. Henderson had a bulged disk in his back removed just before Christmas to ease the pain, which hampered much of his 2015 campaign. Otten underwent a cleanout of his knee – a procedure that wasn't related to his knee reconstruction. The Crows insist both players will be back into full training by mid February, but neither will feature in the NAB Challenge and a round one return would be considered a stretch. - Harry Thring


The major concern for the Lions comes with small forward Josh Green, who had surgery on his fractured right foot just three weeks ago. Green is touch-and-go for round one and only just starting to increase weight-bearing exercises. Star midfielder Dayne Beams is slowly ramping up his training following off-season shoulder surgery. His running has progressed well and he is expected to take part later in the NAB Challenge. Rugged defender Darcy Gardiner is on modified training after undergoing shoulder and ankle operations during the off-season. Gardiner has begun ball skills and basic change of direction and is expected to rejoin the main training group in coming weeks. Justin Clarke (concussion), Sam Mayes (tonsillitis), Dan McStay (hip flexor) and Josh Walker (knee) all have slight problems not expected to cost them too much time. – Michael Whiting 


The Blues are confident they will have close to a full list to pick from for their NAB Challenge games. While they are carefully monitoring the training loads of their more experienced players, most are tracking well. GWS recruit Lachie Plowman and veteran Dennis Armfield are behind the rest of the group but are making steady progress.Plowman had surgery on his hip in December and Armfield had a follow-up operation late last year after breaking his arm last season. Marc Murphy, whose troublesome left shoulder was reconstructed post-season, is on course to play in the NAB Challenge. He was sent back for more surgery in December after feeling some discomfort, but has been doing most of the training recently. Levi Casboult is also looking good after having surgery on his posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late last season. - Howard Kotton 


The Magpies are in reasonable shape, with the only player certain to be sidelined for round one being luckless youngster Matt Scharenberg, who has started running again as he recovers from a second knee reconstruction. Most encouraging was the news this week that star recruit Adam Treloar, who underwent groin surgery in the off-season, has started participating in parts of the main training sessions. Collingwood's director of football Neil Balme told the club's website on Wednesday that the former Giant was "tracking very well". Fellow recruit Jeremy Howe has also responded well after suffering a foot stress reaction and could re-join full training sooner than was initially expected. The Pies have lightened the workload of goalsneak Jamie Elliott to help him overcome a minor back "niggle". Swingman Tyson Goldsack is still battling the knee tendinitis that necessitated off-season surgery, and might endure a delayed start to the season. Meanwhile, Tim Broomhead (hamstring), Ben Sinclair (hamstring), Tom Langdon (meniscus), Jackson Ramsay (shin) and James Aish (finger) have returned to full training, while Brent Macaffer, who missed last season after a second knee reconstruction, hasn't missed a session. – Ben Collins 

Matt Scharenberg training at Falls Creek in November. Picture: AFL Media


Much of the attention at Bomberland has been focused on Essendon's top-up players and there has been little information on the club's status from an injury standpoint. Nick Kommer, who has battled a chronic knee issue and soft-tissue problems last year, has graduated to be involved in full match play. There is some concern around Matthew Leuenberger, who has been dealing with an ongoing Achilles problem, but the Bombers are confident he will resume running next week. Veteran Adam Cooney has been on a modified program heading into the final year of his contract with the Bombers, although he is expected to join in some match simulation drills next week. Draftee Alex Morgan (hamstring) is back training with the main group, while rookie Tom Wallis has also overcome a few injury setbacks. - Ben Guthrie


The Dockers rehab group has slowly shrunk across the course of the pre-season. Nat Fyfe (leg), Zac Clarke (knee), Shane Yarran (knee), Michael Johnson (back) and Brady Grey (shoulder) have all returned to the main group in the last couple of weeks. Youngster Alex Pearce is the main concern. He is three-quarters of the way through a rehab program after suffering shin and leg soreness late last year. He has been doing a fair bit of running in the last month and is slowly increasing his workload. Harley Bennell is closing in on a return to full training after being carefully managed due to his history of calf issues. Michael Apeness (knee) is edging closer to a return to the main group. Draftee Harley Balic (wrist) is making slow progress in his first pre-season. Rookie Josh Deluca has also been building up his running loads after a rotten first-year with injury. - Alex Malcolm  


Geelong's injury list is far shorter than what it was at this time last year, giving the club a better base to build around heading into 2016. Both Selwoods – Joel and Scott – are racing the clock to be fit for round one. Joel, who has battled plantar fasciitis in his right foot, will not play in the NAB Challenge but the skipper is hopeful he will be fit to play against Hawthorn in the opening round. Scott is not yet in full training after off-season ankle surgery and is unlikely to be ready to play at the start of the season. Billie Smedts had shoulder surgery in January and is expected to be sidelined until at least round six, however the 23-year-old has started running again. Rookie Cameron Delaney (knee surgery) has only just begun running. In positive news for the club, injury-prone youngsters Daniel Menzel, Nathan Vardy, Josh Cowan and Lincoln McCarthy are all back in full training. - Ben Guthrie

Joel Selwood is racing the clock to be fit for round one. Picture: AFL Media

Gold Coast

Slowly but surely the Suns' midfield is coming back together after a disastrous run of injuries in 2015. David Swallow (knee) is training strongly after playing just six games last year and is expected to join in with match simulation in the next week or two. Jaeger O'Meara is slightly behind though, with no definitive timetable put on his return following his horrific ruptured patella tendon last April. Coach Rodney Eade is hopeful the former Rising Star winner will be available early in the season, but with O'Meara yet to attempt change-of-direction work, no chances will be taken. Jarrad Grant (wrist) is still four to six weeks away after his cycling accident, but is expected to play the final NAB Challenge match, while Jesse Lonergan (ankle) has returned after a slight mishap. – Michael Whiting 


The GWS rehab room was jam-packed during the second half of 2015 but the great news for Giants fans is that the group has dwindled. Star ruckman Shane Mumford (ankle) is back doing full contact work and will be right to play in the NAB Challenge. Gun midfielders Dylan Shiel (knee) and Tom Scully (knee), co-captain Phil Davis (hamstring) and defender Joel Patfull (collarbone) have all been training with the main group since before the Christmas break. Emerging defender Nick Haynes (groin) is 4-6 weeks away from full training so won’t be seen until early in the season, Will Hoskin-Elliott (leg) should be able to join match practice in the next fortnight, while key defender Tim Mohr (knee) is still three weeks away from playing as he recovers from his second reconstruction in two seasons. – Adam Curley


The premiers have a small rehab group at the moment with just four members. The biggest name is four-time premiership star Jarryd Rougheadwho will have surgery to reconstruct the PCL in his knee. He will go under the knife next week when he returns from his honeymoon, and miss between four to five months. Premiership swingman Matt Spangher is currently undertaking a running program after straining his calf. The club expects him to resume some light skill work very soon. Meanwhile, rookie Alex Woodward won't be ready to play until the middle of the year after a undergoing a third reconstruction on his right knee in July last year. Football operations boss Chris Fagan telling, Woodward still has a long road ahead of him. "Alex is still undertaking a running program and is starting to introduce some change of direction with the plan to commence some skills work later this month." The final member of the rehab group is draftee Ryan Burton. The club is taking a cautious approach with the crafty forward, after he broke his leg and dislocated his kneecap in August 2014. "Coming off a year of no football we are managing Ryan's training loads carefully. We are building him up gradually and he is making good progress," Fagan said. - Nat Edwards

Jarryd Roughead will miss the first half of the season after knee surgery. Picture: AFL Media


Melbourne defender Heritier Lumumba remains in the rehab group after having surgery on both ankles post-season. Although he is progressing well his return date remains uncertain. Christian Petracca was back running this week after a broken toe in December caused a setback in his recovery from a knee reconstruction. The club hopes he'll be available to play during the NAB Challenge. Jack Trengove continues to take gradual steps as he returns from a foot injury that has restricted him to just two games in two seasons. He has begun agility work and is not far from re-joining full training. Midfielder Ben Newton returned to running on the Alter-G this week as his return from ankle surgery gathers pace. The 23-year-old had surgery in December. The club's top 10 draft pick, Sam Weideman, is being brought along slowly after his final year in the TAC Cup was hampered with ankle issues. Tall forward Chris Dawes is also been managed carefully due to his history of soft tissue problems. On the positive side Bernie Vince has returned to full training after struggling early with hamstring tendinitis for the second season in succession and Nathan Jones has recovered from neck surgery. Melbourne football manager Josh Mahoney said the club was in good shape at this stage of the year: "We're quite healthy at the moment and we'd expect the majority of our players to play in the NAB Challenge series." - Peter Ryan

North Melbourne

The Roos look set to enter the 2016 season in great shape. Daniel Wells (Achilles tendon), Lindsay Thomas (foot) and Sam Gibson (ankle) have all resumed full training since the Christmas break and are set to play in the NAB Challenge. Captain Andrew Swallow is close to returning to full training after post-season surgery on both knees, with North hopeful he can play in its final two pre-season games. Vice-captain Jack Ziebell (shoulder) should also play in the NAB Challenge and is set to resume contact training next week. Second-year tall Sam Durdin (shoulder) has enjoyed a strong pre-season, while fellow 2014 draftees Daniel Nielson (knee reconstruction) and Ed Vickers-Willis (shoulder) are progressing well in their rehab. Nielson is close to joining the main training group and Vickers-Willis remains on track to return for round one of the VFL. - Nick Bowen

Port Adelaide

Star forward Charlie Dixon was added to the club's injury list this week after he pulled up sore after training on Monday. Subsequent scans revealed the need for minor surgery to fix the meniscus in his knee. The club only expects him to miss between 4-6 weeks and is even open to the possibility of him playing in the final NAB Challenge game on March 10. The news is better for Jared Polec who, after missing the bulk of 2015 with a broken navicular bone in his foot, has recovered fully and will see game time prior to round one. After slow starts to their pre-seasons, Chad Wingard (knee), Alipate Carlile (hip) and Jay Schulz (back) are back into full training. - Harry Thring

Recruit Charlie Dixon has been added to the Power injury list this week. Picture: AFL Media


The Tigers’ rehab group has shrunk to four in recent weeks, with Shaun Hampson (ankle), Taylor Hunt (knee), Nathan Drummond (knee) and Chris Yarran (calf) being managed. It's been a necessary turnaround for the club after a larger than usual nine players started the pre-season in cotton wool. Recruit Yarran remains weeks away from full training and is completing his own program, which will likely keep him out of the NAB Challenge until later in the pre-season competition. Hunt was due to join the main group this week after a minor knee injury, while Drummond must be more patient after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in late April last year. Hampson underwent surgery on both ankles at the end of last season and is on track to feature late in the NAB Challenge. Ben Lennon appears to be well past his glandular fever setback and has impressed in recent sessions. - Nathan Schmook

St Kilda

Midfield recruit Nathan Freeman has been managed since crossing from Collingwood, with his recurrent hamstring problems being monitored closely by the Saints. Right now he is a couple of weeks away from resuming training as he works with the clubs strength and conditioning coaches. There is no timeline for him to play at this stage, with the NAB Challenge now out of reach. Jarryn Geary is recovering from a quad injury but should be available for the NAB Challenge, while Billy Longer and Tim Membrey, who each underwent shoulder surgery at the end of last year, are now in full contact training. After an extended period in rehab, young star Jack Billings has overcome his shin troubles and is eyeing a return to action in the NAB Challenge, albeit on managed minutes. – Nathan Schmook

Sydney Swans

Co-captain Jarrad McVeigh is unlikely to see much game time in the NAB Challenge, as he continues his recovery from knee surgery. McVeigh has only just started running but looks in great physical shape. Ben McGlynn is being managed after his hamstring issues in 2015, but the small forward is running strongly and could play some footy late in the pre-season. Talented speedster Zak Jones (knee) hasn't seen much action outside of the gym but will be stepping up his training in the next month after off-season surgery, while the luckless Alex Johnson (knee) is consulting specialists after his fourth reconstruction again proved unsuccessful. On the plus side for the Swans, Luke Parker (ankle), Kieren Jack (knee) and Sam Reid (hamstring) are in full training and have fully recovered from the injuries that saw them play little or no part in last year's finals series. – Adam Curley 

West Coast

The Eagles haven't got any major worries heading into the NAB Challenge. Jack Redden (adductor) and Dom Sheed (knee) are back running and doing ball work after having surgery prior to Christmas. They are edging closer to joining the main group. Sharrod Wellingham cut his foot at the beach recently but it has not hampered his training too much. First-year midfielder Kurt Mutimer had hamstring surgery this week to repair a damaged tendon and will miss 10 weeks. Rookie Alec Waterman is on indefinite leave as he deals with glandular fever. Fellow youngsterDamien Cavka was forced to retire due to a degenerative foot injury. - Alex Malcolm

Western Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are fit and firing, with only ACL victims Clay Smith and Roarke Smith in the rehab group. The Dogs are taking a cautious approach with Smith as he recovers from a third operation on his right knee in as many years, so don't expect to see him playing until mid-season. Roarke sustained his injury during the VFL finals last year and will also miss a fair chunk of 2016. Another ACL causality, Tom Liberatore, hasn't missed a beat over summer and will be a massive inclusion to the Dogs' premiership assault. Koby Stevens has had a solid pre-season after overcoming a bruised lung and foot stress facture that saw him miss the last two months of last year. And versatile bigman Jordan Roughead has fully recovered from a broken finger that forced him out of the elimination final loss to Adelaide. – Ryan Davidson