Daniher finally ready to return for Bombers
ESSENDON key forward Joe Daniher could play his first competitive match against AFL opposition in nine months when the Bombers take on Carlton in the JLT Community Series opener on Thursday night.
Coach John Worsfold told the Sunday Herald Sun that Daniher - who hasn't played since round seven last year - was in the mix to take on the Blues at Ikon Park after a solid performance in the club's intra-club game on Thursday.
Daniher has made significant progress in his game fitness and the club is confident it is now on top of the groin issues that cruelled his 2018 season.
"Joey played 60 minutes (on Thursday) - he is ready to play," Worsfold said.
"We will just be putting the perfect program in place for him, so that he is best prepared (for round one). That could mean - and it is likely to mean - that he will play some minutes (against the Blues) in JLT1.
"Everyone would be excited by that."
An assessment will be made on whether it is better for the 24-year-old to take on the Blues and then have a longer lead-in to the club's round one game against Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium on March 24.
But the one thing the coach was certain about was that the club made the right decision to sideline him early last season in an effort to get to the bottom of his groin issues - even if Daniher was initially reluctant to rest.
"We made a decision last year where his form was struggling, and I certainly had a strong belief that by the time we pulled him out, it wasn't form," Worsfold said.
"I believe he was too sore to impact the game at the level he wanted to, even though he felt he could push through.
"That gave us time to absolutely assess everything. We had always had the view that Joey's best footy is ahead of him.
"He is just coming into his mature years and we didn't want those wasted where he had three seasons where we haven't looked after him properly.
"We were prepared to do whatever it was last year to get his body right and hopefully he has a good run at it (now) for the next 10 years."
Daniher has played 100 games - and kicked 181 goals - across his six seasons.