ESSENDON ruckman Tom Bellchambers has revealed in-demand teammate Joe Daniher is significantly lighter and living outside of Melbourne as he tries to revive his career.
Groin problems ruined Daniher's past two seasons – he played only 11 games in that time – after winning the Bombers' best and fairest award and being an All-Australian in 2017.
'A FAIR WAY OFF' Doubt continues over Bomber's return
The 26-year-old's failed bid to cross to Sydney last year has intensified interest in his situation, particularly given he is a restricted free agent at season's end.
There is no public indication yet as to whether Daniher will attempt to join the Swans again, with Essendon able to match any rival offer, as per free agency rules.
Bellchambers has kept in regular contact with Daniher and said he was tracking well in his recovery despite still being without a timeline to return.
"He's going to really ramp up his training over the next couple of weeks and give himself the best shot to come back and play," Bellchambers told ABC Grandstand.
"He's probably dropped five or six kilos in the break, so he's looking really lean, and from what I've seen since we've been back training in the last week-and-a-half, he's running really well.
FIXTURE REVEAL New timeslot, primetime crackers, double-headers
"So, from that point of view, it's positive signs but anyone who's had a long-term injury, you really do have concerns.
"For Joey, it's (about) trying to get some continuity in his training, which he's been able to do over the break and since we've been back training, and then you just hope for his sake he can get out and play some footy."
Bellchambers said he had no idea if Daniher had already made up his mind on his playing future but was "doing a good job of keeping it from his teammates" if he had.
"Joey's obviously missed a lot of football and it's been well publicised about what happened over the Trade Period," he said.
"But as a teammate of Joey's, all you can do is support him and you want him to get out and play some footy. He does seem like he's in a good spot at the moment.
MUST WATCH Nine games you can't miss
"He's made a couple of lifestyle changes. He's living out close to me (in Daylesford) now, so he's out of the city, which has been a good change for him, and he seems to be enjoying himself."
Essendon is also sweating on skipper Dyson Heppell's fitness ahead of its round two clash with Sydney at the SCG on Sunday, June 14.
Heppell is progressing well from a long-term foot battle but also dislocated a finger on his left hand this week.
"The break's come at the right time for him and he's been able to get a fair bit of training in, in that eight weeks away from the football club," Bellchambers said of Heppell.
"You do know one thing with Dyson is he's the ultimate professional and he's going to do everything he can to give himself the best chance of playing.
"The finger's not ideal a couple of weeks out from the return to football but in terms of fitness and everything, he hasn't missed a beat … (so) hopefully he'll be out there against Sydney."