DEFENDER Josh Wagner will miss a month after injuring his thumb during the final week of the VFL practice matches last weekend.
Wagner, who was sidelined from Melbourne’s second JLT Community Series match until round one of the home and away season, with a fracture fibula, was playing his second VFL practice match when the injury happened.
Elite performance manager Dave Misson confirmed Wagner would be sidelined until mid-May.
“He had a dislocation fracture of his thumb, which he’ll have operated on [Wednesday] and we expect that to be four weeks,” he told Melbourne TV.
In better news, defender Michael Hibberd is set to return via the VFL on Easter Monday, when Casey opens its 2017 season against Williamstown at Burbank Oval.
“He’s had a really, really solid month of training. He probably could’ve played in the VFL, but we deliberately held him back because we wanted to get a bit more volume into him on the Saturday,” Misson said.
“He did a really good session with Jordan Lewis and Mitch King.
“As luck had it, the VFL game got called off after three quarters, so it’s worked out well for him. We expect him to play some pretty decent minutes on Easter Monday and if he plays well, he may put himself in the frame [for round five].”
Ruckman Max Gawn had hamstring surgery on Tuesday and Misson said the 2016 All-Australian was set to be eased into rehab.
“He won’t do a lot for the first couple of weeks, but it’s an injury and a surgery that has occurred a lot in the AFL, probably in the last five years, so we’ve got a pretty good handle on the rehab requirements,” he said.
“We’re hoping that it is only going to be 12 to 14 weeks.”
But defenders Joel Smith (shoulder, 10-12 weeks) and Col Garland (knee, season) have started their rehab.
“Col’s just started doing some work in the gym and with that ACL – that’s it for him for the year,” Misson said.
“Joel is primarily out of the sling and is starting to do some mobility work and looking pretty good, so his timeline is as expected.”
Utility Aaron vandenBerg (heel) and first-year Demon Pat McKenna (hamstring) will miss at least another six weeks each.
“Both of those guys will start their running towards the end of the week,” Misson said.
“Paddy McKenna will need at least six weeks and Aaron just a fraction longer, but they’re going pretty well.”
Youngster Liam Hulett (hip) is almost back to full training and will train with the VFL players this Saturday. He will return in the second round of the VFL season, along with big man Mitch King (knee).
Melbourne injury list: round four
Colin Garland (knee) – season
Max Gawn (hamstring) – 12 weeks
Jesse Hogan (suspension) – 1 week
Liam Hulett (hip) – 1 week
Mitch King (knee) – 1 week
Jordan Lewis (suspension) – 2 weeks
Pat McKenna (hamstring) – 6 weeks
Joel Smith (shoulder) – 10-12 weeks
Aaron vandenBerg (heel) – 6-8 weeks
Josh Wagner (thumb) – 4 weeks