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Bone bruising sees key Don in finals doubt

Sloane's surgery, Dusty's future, more The Footy Feed team with all the latest news

DOUBT remains over Cale Hooker's fitness for Essendon's elimination final clash with Sydney after tests revealed the forward is suffering from a bout of "unpredictable" bone bruising.

Hooker was a late withdrawal from the Bombers' win over Fremantle on Sunday, which pushed them into seventh position on the ladder and a do-or-die final against the Swans next week.

The Bombers believed Hooker, who has kicked 41 goals this season, had a calf complaint, but further assessments have shown it to be bone bruising in his leg. The club says it is too early to tell if he will be back for their first final in three years.

"We didn't really get the chance to look at [the injury] until well after the game and we've checked it out again today," Bombers high performance manager Justin Crow said on the club's website.

"He's got some bone bruising on the outside of his leg. That's still pretty sore, we'll just wait to see how that comes up over the next week or two.
"These [injuries] are unpredictable. We're hopeful and optimistic, but we'll just need to see how it progresses."

Two more vital Bombers, Michael Hurley and Orazio Fantasia, will need to pass fitness tests to play against the Swans. Hurley has missed the past two weeks with a calf issue while a hamstring strain has sidelined Fantasia since round 20.

Crow said Fantasia had stepped up his running program, and that Hurley, too, was making good inroads.

"Hurls is running well, tracking nicely – how we'd expect – but it will eventually come down to a fitness test leading into the Sydney Swans," he said.