Goddard knee fears, Saad concussed
ESSENDON faces a week of uncertainty ahead of a monster Friday night clash with Richmond after a night of on-field carnage at Etihad Stadium put a potential dent in the Bombers' push for what would be a miracle finals berth.
Coach John Worsfold said the severity of injuries to Brendon Goddard (knee), Adam Saad (concussion), Cale Hooker (knee) and Orazio Fantasia (hamstring) were unknown after Essendon's 43-point win over St Kilda.
Essendon finished with no fit players on the bench, after playing the final three quarters two men down, and midfielder Devon Smith said he was "knocked back" several times after trying to get a break as a lack of rotations hit the Bombers hard.
While Goddard's knee injury wasn't as bad as first feared, and Hooker declared he would play after issues with his kneecap, decisions are likely to be made on their fitness later in the week.
"Saad seems alright but that's an unknown. He's a wait and see," Worsfold said.
"Goddard felt something in his knee, he seems fine right now, he is walking around OK. We need to find out what gave him the pain. That's a bit of an unknown.
"Hooker had some knee cap pain. He's pretty confident that he's OK.
"And Fantasia was tight in the hamstring late. There might be something there. Certainly they weren't game to put him back on."
There were fears Goddard, who is out of contract, may have played his last AFL game after he hyperextended his right knee in a marking contest early in the first quarter.
The 33-year-old hobbled from the ground and went into the rooms before returning to the bench to have ice strapped on his knee.
Goddard, who underwent a left-knee reconstruction in 2007, said he was hopeful he had avoided another ACL tear.
"We think it's all right. It didn't feel like the ACL I did 10, 12 years ago with a pop," Goddard told Channel 7 at halftime.
"The doc just couldn't be sure because they've got nothing to compare it to because I have had an ACL repair on my left.
"What's normal on my right, we don't really know. Obviously, I have a bit of bone bruising but we're reasonably confident.
"I knew exactly what I did in, hyper-extended it. Again the doc just couldn't be sure.
"Doing all the testing (it) felt structurally OK but he couldn't give me the definitive
answer. More precaution than anything."
St Kilda defender Nathan Brown was put on report for the bump that knocked out Saad, and Worsfold said it was an "avoidable incident".
Hooker could also come under scrutiny for a high hit on Saint Daniel McKenzie.
With the short turnaround to Friday night's clash with the Tigers, Worsfold said post-match player assessments took on extra importance so the players workload could be adjusted to prepare.
But should he need to call on replacements, Worsfold said he was confident the next men in line could help keep the Bombers' momentum going.
"We are slowly losing our backline … but they are holding up pretty well, we have some good depth there," he said.
"We are comfortable we have the players there to play well."
Essendon has to beat the Tigers and Port Adelaide, and hope things go their way to play in September, but Worsfold said his players only had an eye on Friday's clash.
But he also said it was a "given" they wanted to play finals, and if his team got there, they would deserve it.
"You get play to finals because over a gruelling 22 rounds you are good enough to qualify and if we miss out it means over the 22 rounds we weren't good enough," he said.
"That's the area we want to grow … and I have no doubt we have grown massively as a group and if we don't pay finals, we know we weren't good enough."
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