ESSENDON fears Jake Stringer could miss up to three months after scans confirmed he had suffered an ankle syndesmosis injury in Friday night's win over Collingwood.
The star forward was crucial with three goals in the Bombers' 15-point win at the MCG but was sent for scans on Saturday morning after finishing the game on the bench.
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The Bombers believe the 26-year-old will be sidelined for at least the next 6-8 weeks.
Coach Josh Worsfold revealed Stringer is unlikely to join his teammates in the Gold Coast hub when they depart for a minimum of 32 days on Monday.
"We have had some bad news around his ankle injury. It looks like he's going to miss a number of weeks which is really disappointing for Jake and for us obviously," Worsfold told Fox Footy.
"It's a syndesmosis injury. I've only had the basic outline of it, the club will probably release some information around that shortly. He's going to be unavailable for a number of weeks.
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"Generally they are at least a four-week injury. We've seen players get back in that time if they have had surgery, but we don't know what the outcome at the moment is. He'll need to see surgeon to discuss whether that's the option we will go down.
"They can be up to three-month injury, we don't know where his sits at the moment."
After last week's one-point loss to Carlton, Essendon's forwards dialled up the pressure and tackle count to pounce on opportunities in the front half.
"Last week was more of a one-off as opposed to a pattern that we've seen from our forwards so we worked through why we thought that might have been the case last week and there's always a balance with what you're trying to achieve overall," Worsfold said post-match.
"They were outstanding tonight."
The Bombers are working through their plans for how many players they take to Gold Coast for the next month of games, with key forward Joe Daniher inching towards a return. Zach Merrett will return from suspension next week.
Collingwood counterpart Nathan Buckley refused to concede the Magpies' off-field distractions this week had an impact on their fall to the Bombers.
Their vice-captain Steele Sidebottom was hit with a four-game ban for his COVID-19 protocol breach, but Buckley said the incident hadn't put the Pies off their game.
"I'd say [it had] nought [influence on the players]. In the end there's a fair bit happening in the environment and we've been pretty good at drawing the line between what happens during the week or what happens off field and then what we do on field," he said.
"There's no excuses from our behalf in regards to that. We just weren't good enough tonight."
He also said Mason Cox needed to impose himself on games more after the key target dropped several marks and went without a kick throughout the contest.
Cox, who kicked one goal against the Giants last week, finished with two handballs and one mark in the loss to the Bombers.
"There was a game he played a couple of years ago when he hardly had a touch but he executed his role really well. He was one of a few who really struggled to have a contribution tonight," Buckley said.
"He's not on his own. Big fellas can still be effective in slippery conditions because they provide a target and they provide a beacon and even though 'Coxy' didn't get a lot of it he was pretty important for us in that last quarter as a target for us.
"But no, it wasn't a great one."