Off-season barometer: Who’s flying, who’s hurt?
Western Bulldogs will manage the return of several frontline players this off-season, with key trio Aaron Naughton, Lachie Hunter and Tom Liberatore unlikely to join full training until after Christmas.
Hunter underwent a shoulder reconstruction, while Liberatore and Naughton will be managed due to knee injuries.
FIND OUT YOUR CLUB'S INJURY LIST AND OFF-SEASON LATEST BELOW
Many star players have joined their younger teammates in early preparations for 2020, with Lance Franklin, Tom Mitchell and Eddie Betts back on the track at their respective clubs.
Our journalists around the country have compiled the latest surgery, pre-season and injury news from every AFL club.
New coach Matthew Nicks takes over a very healthy squad buoyed by the return from long-term injury of 2018 AFL Rising Star runner-up TOM DOEDEE. Doedee suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Round 1 against Hawthorn last season and was ruled out for the year. He returned ahead of schedule to join his younger teammates (two-to-four-year players) at their first fitness session on Thursday. The fifth-year key backman wasn't due back until Monday when the full Crows squad returns. "He's looking fit and raring to go,'' Nicks said. Other senior players to return to training early included veterans BRYCE GIBBS, who Nicks revealed would likely start at halfback next season after a tough 2019 campaign in the midfield, TOM LYNCH, BRODIE SMITH and LUKE BROWN. WAYNE MILERA and RILEY KNIGHT, who was courted by Sydney in the trade period, also joined their younger teammates at the West Lakes session. Apart from Doedee, the Crows say they will start their pre-season campaign with only three other players on modified programs - youngsters NED McHENRY (back) and ANDREW McPHERSON (hamstrings) and untried forward SHANE McADAM (calf/hamstrings).
- Andrew Capel
In a terrific sign for the resurgent Brisbane Lions, every player on their list is expected to hit the ground running when pre-season training starts. The Lions' first-to-fourth year players return to the paddock on Monday with older players expected to gradually return over the following two weeks before the full squad reports for duty on December 2. The only Brisbane player to have off-season surgery was defender MARCUS ADAMS who had a clean-out on his knee. He is expected to make a strong recovery. Star forward CHARLIE CAMERON injured his elbow in the finals but medical staff said the issue did not require surgery and he will return with the rest of the playing group.
- Greg Davis
Returning Carlton fan favourite EDDIE BETTS has made some appearances at Ikon Park over the past two weeks, despite not being due back at training until Monday. The Blues hope CHARLIE CURNOWwill be up and running by Christmas after right knee surgery early last month following a basketball mishap. Hawthorn recruit MARC PITTONET is among other senior players who have returned to the track early, along with PATRICK CRIPPS, KADE SIMPSON, LIAM JONES and MITCH McGOVERN. Co-captain SAM DOCHERTY aims to return to full training in mid-January and be ready for Round 1. A leaner Docherty had a week in the United States this month to help build strength in his legs following back-to-back anterior cruciate ligament tears. JOSH DELUCA, who the Blues delisted after picking him in the mid-season draft this year, is training with the club as he bids to earn a spot back on the list, along with delisted Western Bulldogs midfielder LUKAS WEBB, who did not manage an AFL game this year.
- Chris Cavanagh
DARCY CAMERON - the 204cm recruit from Sydney - will run out on Monday when the Magpies' first-to-fourth-year players hit the track, alongside the likes of JAIDYN STEPHENSON and ISAAC QUAYNOR. The Magpies boast a relatively healthy list. LEVI GREENWOOD had his ACL repaired in preliminary final week while TIM BROOMHEAD went under the knife to have the rod in his healed leg removed late in the season. MASON COX- who had surgery in August after tearing the retina in his left eye - was cleared by a specialist to fly home to the US and begin light contact work in September. JORDAN DE GOEYspent a chunk of September in Germany to accelerate the repair of his torn hamstring, but he shouldn't miss a beat given he would've been right for the Grand Final if the Magpies made it. As for All-Australian BRODIE GRUNDY, he spent the break scaling Machu Picchu in Peru and is poised to ink a seven-year contract.
- Sam Landsberger
Developing young ruckman SAM DRAPER had his first run on Thursday since he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in May. But he will remain on a modified program and is expected to be a late starter next season. Forward ORAZIO FANTASIA is the main concern on the injury front, not set to join main training until January following post-season hip surgery. Recruits TOM CUTLER and ANDREW PHILLIPS have been among the early birds to join training with the Bombers' first-to-fourth-year players. Senior players aren't officially due back on the track until November 25. Forward JOE DANIHER is said to be "fully committed" to getting back on the field after two injury-ravaged years and a failed trade bid to Sydney. He, along with JAMES STEWART, completed a strong training program during a recent trip to Ireland with a club physio. Other senior players who have returned early include CALE HOOKER, MICHAEL HURLEY, ZACH MERRETT, DEVON SMITH and ANTHONY McDONALD-TIPUNGWUTI.
- Chris Cavanagh
The Dockers' senior players will return for pre-season training this week as life under new coach Justin Longmuir ramps up. Dual Brownlow medallist NAT FYFE (shoulder), JESSE HOGAN (foot) and ALEX PEARCE (ankle) will be on modified training programs following their operations. Fyfe, who has been picking coffee beans in Colombia and training with good friend Matt de Boer during his overseas holiday, will be kept out of contract drills before Christmas. Hogan and Pearce are a chance to play in Freo's season-opener against Essendon at Marvel Stadium. Key forward Matt Taberner (foot) cut an imposing upper-body figure, despite being restricted to the rehab group. Recruits BLAKE ACRES (St Kilda), JAMES AISH (Collingwood) and All-Australian MICHAEL WALTERS have hit the track earlier than required. Aish was greeted by the club's general manager of football Peter Bell when he arrived in Perth this week.
- Jordan McArdle
The preliminary finalists are still enjoying some time off, with players due return to the club for meetings and screenings on Monday before the start of training for first-to-fourth-year players on Tuesday. Trade acquisitions JACK STEVEN and JOSH JENKINS will return early with those younger players, along with injury-prone forward NAKIA COCKATOO who has played just two AFL games in two years. MITCH DUNCAN, who missed Geelong's last two finals with a minor, but untimely, knee injury, will be another on the track before he needs to be. Duncan expects to miss a week in December with a baby on the way. The rest of the Cats' senior players are expected back on December 2 for a two-and-a-half week block before the Christmas break. GARY ABLETT has been showing off his skateboarding skills on Instagram this week, while TOM HAWKINS enjoyed some time at the Spring Racing Carnival and MARK BLICAVS holidayed in the United States.
- Chris Cavanagh
SAM COLLINS has been putting in the hard yards to try to clear his body of the hip and femur troubles that ended his 2019 season. MITCH RIORDAN is also back on track and one of the Suns' best runners after he struggled through the back end of the year with a calf complaint. RORY THOMPSON has shown good signs as he returns from an ACL injury sustained in early March. He has been training with the first-to-fourth-year players while WIL POWELL is another standout returning from injury. He's still on a modified program to monitor his knee but has stepped up his conditioning and appears on track for a full return to health. BEN AINSWORTH, JACK BOWES and DARCY McPHERSON have all come back in career-best condition along with rookie JACOB DAWSON and new recruit CONNOR BUDARICK, both of whom impressed in the first 2km time-trial.
- Lachlan Grey
The bulk of the 2019 Grand Finalist's squad won't report back for duty until December 2, but the club's year one-to-four-year players will hit the track on Monday at the club's WestConnex Centre HQ. They will be joined by new ruckman SAM JACOBS as he looks to get an early start after switching from the Crows. Young AFL regulars including TIM TARANTO, JACOB HOPPER and HARRY HIMMELBERG will report back on November 25 to start their 2020 preparations. STEPHEN CONIGLIO (knee) and CALLAN WARD (ACL reconstruction) both missed large chunks of 2019 through injury. Coniglio just fell short in his bid to make the Grand Final while Ward resumed running as the 2019 season drew to a close. The club's co-captain recently spent time with renowned reconditioning specialist Bill Knowles in the United States. Both are due back with the main group on December 2. Young ruckman MATT FLYNN ruptured his ACL in a NEAFL game in July but is already back at the club, doing gym work and running on the Alter G treadmill.
- Jon Ritson
Recruits JONATHON PATTON and SAM FROSTstarted pre-season training earlier than when they were due back, which was November 18. After missing the entire 2019 season with a broken leg, 2018 Brownlow medallistTOM MITCHELL has been a regular visitor at Waverley Park throughout the off-season as he bids to return to full fitness, but by his own admission there are "no guarantees" he will be ready for Round 1. Entering his 14th season, new father JAMES FRAWLEY was another to hit to the track early, along with fellow defender JAMES SICILY. Other senior players to make early appearances include CHAD WINGARD, TIM O'BRIEN, DAN HOWE and JONATHON CEGLAR. Delisted forward DARREN MINCHINGTON is training with the Hawks in the hope of winning back a spot on the playing list for 2020 after an injury-interrupted past two years. Some other senior players including JACK GUNSTON and ISAAC SMITH are yet to join official training but have been completing sessions at the gym owned by teammate LIAM SHIELS.
- Chris Cavanagh
Former Gold Coast and Fremantle midfielder HARLEY BENNELL plans to join the Demons' training from December 3 as he looks to revive an injury-ravaged career. The 27-year-old has not appeared at AFL level since he played in the last two rounds of 2017. Ruckman BRAYDON PREUSS has dropped 9kg to improve his chances of more game-time in what could be a formidable two-pronged combination with MAX GAWN, who maintained a disciplined training regimen throughout overseas holidays. After a difficult season which ended early due to injury, TOM McDONALD was one of the senior players to return to training early. Fellow key forward SAM WEIDEMAN will have a delayed start to training after having a hip clean-out. DefenderSTEVEN MAYalso started training early and is doing pilates and extra yoga sessions as part of a new-look program he hopes will return him to full fitness in 2020.
BEN JACOBS - who has missed 69 out of the past 82 games with a mystery illness - will be put on a modified pre-season program although he appears to be tracking OK. Kids WILL WALKER (knee) and KYRON HAYDEN (Achilles) are the other early concerns. Walker will join Jacobs on a restricted program while Hayden is a long way off and will miss the first chunk of the 2020 season after rupturing his Achilles on debut in Round 15. LUKE McDONALD (broken leg) will be good to go when the senior players return to Arden St tomorrow (NOV 18) while new dad MAJAK DAW has cut his holidays short to get on the track. Daw and SAM DURDIN will help fill the Scott Thompson void at fullback. As for the other youngsters it's been JY SIMPKIN and LUKE DAVIES-UNIACKE who have turned heads by returning in splendid condition. The Roos will be eager to impress an dramatically overhauled coaching panel as senior man Rhyce Shaw and footy boss Brady Rawlings put their stamp on the club.
- Sam Landsberger
Former Demon JACK WATTS is one of the Power's pre-season good news stories after recovering from a shocking broken leg and dislocated ankle suffered in Round 2 last season. He has returned to training ahead of schedule - joining his younger teammates - and is on track to play in Round 1 next season. Port had six players undergo post-season operations - former skipper TRAVIS BOAK, ex-Lion TOM ROCKLIFF and impressive first-year player ZAK BUTTERS (shoulders) and vice-captain HAMISH HARTLETT, former Cat STEVEN MOTLOP and wingman KARL AMON(knees). Rockliff is the most serious. He underwent a third left shoulder reconstruction - a complex procedure called Latarjet-Bristow where a piece of bone was taken from one part of his shoulder and attached to the front of his shoulder socket - and will be kept in cotton wool until the new year. "These shoulder injuries have become pretty debilitating at times but hopefully this surgery will do the job,'' Rockliff said. Hartlett's arthroscopy is expected to stop him training properly until just before Christmas. The other surgeries were just minor clean-ups. Port's second-to-fourth year players started training on November 4, with the full squad returning on Monday.
- Andrew Capel
ALEX RANCE went under the knife again last week for an arthroscope on the right knee that ruined his 2019 season. That operation will keep Rance off his legs for about 10 days, although he won't miss more than a few days of pre-season. Ruckman TOBY NANKERVIS had his groin fixed after the Grand Final and how his body responds in January will determine whether he is ready for the start of the 2020 season. Nankervis, 25, is the Tiger set for the slowest start with JACK GRAHAM and SHAI BOLTON - who have both had shoulders reconstructed - scheduled to join in contest work after the Christmas break. JACK HIGGINS is on track to be back to normal in 2020 after two bouts of brain surgery in what would provide a huge lift to an already jovial club. While there is no timeline pressure on a return to footy for Higgins, the Tigers are quietly bullish that he is every chance to be part of their push for back-to-back flags, which hasn't been achieved at Punt Rd since 1973-74.
- Sam Landsberger
DAN HANNEBERY'S stumble at his sister's house in Perth last month will see him miss the first few weeks of pre-season with a broken foot. Youngster NICK COFFIELD has been told to avoid contest work until late December as he recovers from shoulder surgery in August, while PADDY McCARTIN (concussion) has been taken off the list. Elsewhere, the Saints are flying. JADE GRESHAM won't ever be leading time-trials, but he did record his best skinfolds upon return while JAKE CARLISLE has been spotted in the Moorabbin gym over the past four weeks. Captain JARRYN GEARY - who suffered a broken leg in June and played just five games this year - is running at full speed while recruits DAN BUTLER and ZAK JONES have made strong impressions by moving into their lockers early. MATT PARKER has had finger and ankle problems sorted, while LOGAN AUSTIN basically started his 2020 pre-season late in the 2019 season while MAX KING and JACK BYTEL are humming. Get set for the top picks from the 2018 draft to make an impact next season. As for Fremantle recruit BRAD HILL, he's road-tripping across the Nullarbor in a campervan as he prepares to begin life as a Saint.
The Swans' senior players will hit the club's Lakeside Oval training track on November 18, joining the youngsters who have already got a fortnight's work under their belts. Superstar forward LANCE FRANKLIN also reported for training two weeks early. Tomorrow will also be the official start of their Sydney journey for new boys LEWIS TAYLOR, SAM GRAY and KAIDEN BRAND, although all three have already been spotted getting some work under their belts with their new teammates. Some familiar faces will be missing. JARRAD McVEIGH (now embracing coaching duties with the Swans), KIEREN JACK, HEATH GRUNDY and NICK SMITH all called time on their careers in 2019. On the injury front, CALLUM SINCLAI R twice dislocated his shoulder during a July clash which ended his season. He has had a shoulder reconstruction. The off-season also saw SAM REID scheduled for a knee arthroscope and LUKE PARKER had a knee clean-up. All are expected back on Monday although it is expected they will be eased into training.
- Jon Ritson
Prized recruit TIM KELLY will join his first-to-fourth-year teammates when the Eagles' pre-season training kicks off this week. The South Fremantle product got his wish to return to Western Australia from Geelong for family reasons, signing a six-year deal worth about $5 million in a monster trade deal with the Cats. Premiership Eagle DAN VENABLES, who posted a video on Instagram of his boxing last week, will be another notable name on the training track after a serious concussion against Melbourne in Round 9 ended his season. Utility OSCAR ALLEN and defender JOSH ROTHAM were among a group of nine Eagles players who joined coach Adam Simpson on the club's fifth trip to Cambodia, building homes for underprivileged families in a remote village.
- Jordan McArdle
Senior players are not due back until next week although newlywed JOSH BRUCE and ALEX KEATH - the two big recruits - are set to make an early appearance on Monday. Keath has already been spotted completing his rehabilitation at Whitten Oval although the intercepting backman won't be in full training until January, having undergone surgery on a stress fracture in his ankle that was diagnosed during his medical examination before trade period. Likewise, AARON NAUGHTON (knee) and TOM LIBERATORE (knee) won't be in full training until after Christmas. MITCH WALLIS suffered a similar injury to Keath and will be on a modified program when his pre-season begins on November 25. LACHIE HUNTER enjoyed a kick with BAILEY DALE last week despite undergoing a post-season shoulder reconstruction. Hunter will be able to complete running and ball work but is unlikely to partake in any contact drills until January. WILL HAYES has stacked on 3kg of muscle while ruckman TIM ENGLISH was the star of this week's circular beep test running. JACKSON TRENGOVE has also enjoyed a headstart on training.
- Sam Landsberger