Sunday, June 23, 2024

Pies injury crisis goes from bad to worse; more woes as Tigers gun’s return pushed back: Casualty Ward

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Collingwood’s injury crisis has worsened as another four players are ruled out of their clash against the Western Bulldogs this week.

Mason Cox has been ruled out for six weeks with an MCL injury, while young gun Joe Richards has been ruled out until at least round 16 with a foot fracture.

Star midfielder Jordan De Goey will miss another month due to an abdominal strain, while gun forward Brody Mihocek will miss the next two to four weeks with a hamstring issue.

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Collingwood’s injury list is progressively getting bigger, but they’re hopeful that both Jeremy Howe and Jack Bytel will be available this week.

Meanwhile, Jacob Hopper’s AFL return date has been pushed back, with the Richmond midfielder’s hamstring injury taking longer to heal than first thought.

Hopper hasn’t played since suffering a hamstring strain in the third quarter of the side’s Anzac Day Eve clash against Melbourne in late April.

The 27-year-old was set to return in one to two weeks, but recent scans have shown his recovery is progressing slower than expected.

As a result, Hopper’s recovery timeline is likely to go from short-term to medium-term.

Hopper’s hamstring injury came in his first match back from a knee injury, which had kept him out of AFL action for five weeks.

The Tigers face Geelong this week, followed by matches against Adelaide and Hawthorn.

Richmond has its mid-season bye the following week, in Round 15, before a Sunday afternoon clash against Carlton in Round 16.

Meanwhile Dreamtime hero Jordan Ridley says being held back from a premature return from injury allowed him to be “at my best” as he flagged more improvement from the second-placed Bombers.

Playing his first AFL since Round 19, 2023, having battled quad issues last season and then again during the pre-season, Ridley was given the Yiooken Award for best on ground in Essendon’s 12-point win over Richmond, the club’s eighth for the season.

The 2020 Essendon best and fairest had been ready for “a couple of weeks” according to coach Brad Scott who said he’d “never forgive myself” if Ridley came back too son and was injured again.

But not only did he see out the game, he showed his class racking up 31 disposals, eight intercept marks, two short of the AFL record, and a goal in a return which came amid an underwhelming overall effort from his teammates, who still managed to get a win.

Ridley said he wanted to be able to go flat out on return, to show his worth in a side which had pushed in to the top two, and he did just that.

“Obviously it’s been a very long time since I’ve played, so I’m just glad to be out there and doing what I love again,” Ridley said.

“Especially early in the year, there were some real low points for me once I re-did it on the cusp of coming back, but I was really adamant that when I came back, I wanted to be absolutely ready and at my best.

“I had a half in the VFL the week before which helped alleviate some of the nerves. But you never know. I put all the work in but you never know how you are going to hold up.

“I’m glad I could get somewhere near that straight away.”

Scott was beaming at the final coming together of what could be his best defensive mix, with only Zach Reid missing, Ridley finally linking up with off-season signing Ben McKay who has been stoic at fullback.

Jordan Ridley takes on his eight intercept marks. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The coach said more time together would only make the backline even better given Ridley’s previous connection with McKay, the pair having done off-season work for a few years before the former North Melbourne defenders arrival.

“It was a key part of bringing Ben in, that it would solidify our defence and give us different options. Outside of tonight, they’ve only played half a practice game together,” Scott said.

“Zach Reid’s another one who is edging closer (hamstring injury). He’s available, really, but we’ve just got to be really careful in terms of his return to play.

“I thought (Jayden) Laverde was fantastic tonight for us as well. Our backline has been functioning pretty well, McKay has been part of that, and Ridley just adds to that.”

Ridley’s positive return was followed by positive news on Nik Cox who was subbed out of the game with hamstring tightness.

But scans cleared the utility of any major damage and the 22-year-old will be monitored through the week before a decision is made on whether he can tackled the Gold Coast Suns next Sunday.

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