A FULLY-FIT Devon Smith dominated Essendon training on Thursday as the Bombers nurse a number of big names through injury-hit pre-seasons.
Smith's importance to the Bombers' hopes in 2020 was evident throughout the session, with the former Greater Western Sydney midfielder back to his tenacious best after an injury-riddled 2019 campaign.
The 26-year-old played only seven games for the Bombers this year as he battled a knee injury that required season-ending surgery after round eight and saw him miss Essendon's return to the finals.
But he showed no signs of that across the morning, with Smith an active, boisterous and busy part of the Bombers' drills, which were led by senior coach-in-waiting Ben Rutten.
At one stage Smith laid a brilliant smother that highlighted his speed, before the dogged midfielder was able to spoil a mark and then follow up the ball at ground level to set up a goal for his group in the session.
The 2018 best and fairest winner's presence was important given the Bombers' injury issues as they head towards their Christmas break.
Rutten told members at last week's annual general meeting that the club had only just over half of its list training fully.
Captain Dyson Heppell spent Thursday's session on the bicycle as he returns from foot surgery, while Orazio Fantasia and Dylan Shiel were running laps.
Cale Hooker and Zach Merrett were unsighted for the session, as was pair David Zaharakis (foot) and Joe Daniher (groin), with that duo coming back from their respective surgeries.
The Bombers' recent batch of draftees also did not train with the group, while Patrick Ambrose and Sam Draper sat out of proceedings and instead trained with the rehab group.
Michael Hurley, who underwent shoulder surgery for the injury he carried into last year's elimination final loss to West Coast, spent the most time on the track of the players who entered the pre-season with fitness issues.
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He was also leading his running group as the players split into three batches at the end of their football drills to complete staggered dashes around the club's secondary oval.
Throughout training Tom Cutler, who joined the Bombers during the Telstra AFL Trade Period from Brisbane, showed glimpses of his speed and run which could be used on a wing next season, while ex-Blue Andrew Phillips worked closely with fellow ruckman Tom Bellchambers.