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Sick Daniher misses training as Fantasia lights it up

Dons' off-field addition set to spark change Cal Twomey and Matt Thompson bring you an update on the Essendon's pre-season

ESSENDON spearhead Joe Daniher was absent from the track on Thursday, but missed the session due to contracting conjunctivitis and not because of the troublesome groin injury that has hampered his last nine months. 

In positive news, Orazio Fantasia has rejoined the main group after a finger injury suffered prior to the Christmas break and completed all of the drills as the players returned to training at The Hangar.

However, midfielder David Zaharakis was among the players restricted to light duties during the one-and-a-half-hour session, but the Bombers confirmed to AFL.com.au that he will be in full training on Friday.

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It is understood Daniher will also miss Friday's session at Tullamarine as the Bombers take a cautious approach with his health.

Before Christmas, coach John Worsfold cast doubt over whether the star forward would be ready to play in round one due to his problematic groin complaint.

"Joey's working really hard. That OP (osteitis pubis) injury can be a chronic, crippling injury so our No.1 priority is that it doesn't linger and affect multiple seasons for Joey," Worsfold said at Essendon's annual general meeting in December.

"He's still coming into his prime years, so if the sake of him absolutely getting over this injury means it actually takes a little bit longer than him being absolutely ready for round one then we'll do that."

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Fantasia had his left hand strapped prior to training but then got stuck straight into the drills, which started with a warm-up game of keepings off with a frisbee and a tennis ball.

The speedy forward underlined his class with his ball use in one particular drill where the objective was to hit targets with a coach guarding the mark and trying to put pressure on the kick.

Marquee recruit Dylan Shiel moved with his typical smoothness in another ball movement drill, teaming up well with skipper Dyson Heppell as the players worked on getting numbers to the fall of the ball and spreading from the contest.

The aim of that particular drill was to gather a groundball cleanly punched down by ruckman Tom Bellchambers, returning from shoulder surgery, and share the ball around to move it forward.

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Initially the drill was not functioning the way it should, so Heppell stepped in, stopped it and brought the players together to discuss and explain where they should be setting up after the ball had been moved away from the contest.

It was an impressive showing of leadership from Heppell, who was particularly vocal as the players were put through their paces.

Exciting draftee Irving Mosquito demonstrated his quickness; Jayden Laverde looked in prime condition and Kobe Mutch set the standard in terms of his intensity and attack on the footy during the session.

Josh Begley (knee), Mason Redman (ankle), Mitch Brown, Jake Long, David Myers and Jordan Ridley were among the players on modified duties.

Martin Gleeson, who is still recovering from the broken leg he suffered in last year's JLT Community Series, was not spotted on the track.