Heartbreak: Dons confirm worst for Daniher
ESSENDON has been rocked by news that superstar forward Joe Daniher will miss the rest of the season and faces surgery.
The news on Thursday came just days after reigning best and fairest Devon Smith was told he also faced season-ending surgery.
In a devastating setback for the star full forward, Daniher has experienced more groin soreness and will play no further part in the 2019 campaign. The towering forward will likely require surgery for osteitis pubis.
Daniher said he was disappointed to be sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season.
"Clearly I want to be out there with my teammates, but with the key people involved in this process we made the decision to go down this path with surgery more than likely," he said.
"I've felt like I have done everything I could to get back to this point, but with this relapse, our options are now exhausted, which is obviously disappointing.
"We'll know more next week in terms of the surgery, but my focus will now be on my rehabilitation process and supporting my teammates in any way I can off the field for the remainder of the season."
Daniher missed 15 games last season due to a groin injury that continued into the summer and restricted the gun goalkicker to light duties over the preseason.
The lengthy lay-off is a huge hit to the club's hopes of making finals and securing a breakthrough September victory.
The groin injury recurrence will also ignite speculation about Essendon's handling of Daniher, although he was rested for the round eight clash with the Sydney Swans.
Coach John Worsfold is under pressure to deliver the Bombers a top-eight berth with a bolstered midfield this season that includes star midfield recruit Dylan Shiel.
Without Daniher, the Bombers will rely heavily on equal leading goalkickers Jake Stringer and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (16 majors), as well as marking targets Mitch Brown, Shaun McKernan and James Stewart.
McKernan (hamstring) and Brown (wrist) are both pushing to make their returns from injury this week although it is unclear if they will be ready to play the Tigers.
Essendon has been hit hard by injury to best-and-fairest winner Smith, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Back-up ruckman Sam Draper is also in the midst of a year-long recovery from a knee reconstruction.
A hard-fought win over Fremantle on Saturday night lifted Essendon to 4-5 on the ladder, with a chance to climb back into the eight with wins over Richmond and Carlton before the mid-season bye.
Essendon signed Daniher to a lucrative three-year contract extension mid-2017, reflecting his standing as one of the game's most talented and exciting key forwards.
But his past 12 months have been shattered by injury.
He missed the first month of the new season with a calf problem and has played four games for seven goals and 22 marks in 2019.
The 104-gamer will qualify for free agency at the end of his eighth AFL season next year.