Essendon’s bright start to the season has been dealt a major blow, with star midfielder Dylan Shiel handed a two-match ban for his high bump on Curtis Taylor.
The incident occurred in the third quarter of Essendon’s win over North Melbourne, when Shiel made contact to the face of Taylor when the North youngster was over the ball.
While Taylor was able to run out the remainder of the match, having been cleared of a concussion, the incident was deemed as “High Impact” from the AFL’s Match Review Panel.
Shiel was charged with “Engaging in Rough Conduct”, with the incident assessed as being “Careless Conduct” with “High Contact” to go along with the high impact, and can accept a two-match sanction with an early plea.
Taylor, a Rising Star nominee in the early part of the season, will undergo an MRI on Monday to assess a potential facial fracture as a result of the incident.
Essendon’s decision on whether to appeal the sanction at the AFL Tribunal is likely to be determined by the outcome of the Taylor’s MRI.
A Shiel suspension would be another blow to a Bombers side that has weathered injuries to Jake Stringer, Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia and captain Dyson Heppell so far this year.
News of Shiel’s potential suspension comes as running defender Conor McKenna looks likely to miss up to a week with a fractured finger.
According to AFL.com.au, scans revealed McKenna’s fate on Sunday with surgery understood to be likely.
Essendon will hope that McKenna’s recovery from a potential surgery mirrors that of Richmond star Tom Lynch who managed to play in Round 6 despite undergoing hand surgery last Monday.
Lynch was cleared to play in Richmond’s clash with Sydney on Sunday while wearing a protective glove on his injured right hand.
The Shiel and McKenna blows come after Essendon looks to be on the cusp of having Daniher returning in the near future after a long-term groin injury.
The star forward is yet to play this season after off-season surgery, but has gradually progressed in training over the last month.
According to Essendon coach John Worsfold, the 26-year-old could be back on an AFL field within the next four to six weeks.
“The aim is to get him back playing footy as quickly as we can without rushing it,” Worsfold told 3AW.
“We want Joey when he gets back playing to have a career uninterrupted as much as possible and it’s what we are working towards. Whether it’s in 3-4 weeks or 5-6 I can’t answer that.
“He has been tracking along pretty well so it’s been great to have him on the training track.
“One thing about the training protocols is Joey has been able to get on the track with players earlier than if we were in full contact so it’s just been nice to have him out there.
“It might be four weeks, it might be six. Basically we are not focusing on date, it’s just keep progressing, working through it and then all of a sudden we will say he is ready to go. There is no strict time on that.”