License article

Essendon cautious over star

ESSENDON forward Michael Hurley is beating a fast track back from his hamstring strain, but may miss a third match before returning to the Bombers' side.

Coach James Hird, who expects defender Tayte Pears back from a knee problem for next week's clash with West Coast, said the club would err on the side of caution with the highly valuable Hurley, despite his quick recovery.

Hurley was injured during the first half of Essendon's round-four win over Carlton, ruling him out of the Anzac Day match and today's game against the Brisbane Lions. Courtenay Dempsey and Nathan Lovett-Murray have both been named to play the Lions following hamstring injuries, as has Travis Colyer, back from a broken thumb.

''Hurls is pretty much running flat-out again. We'll think about playing him next week, but we'll just err on the side of caution,'' Hird said yesterday.

''He's put his hand up and says he's ready to go, so it just shows how minor the injuries we're getting are. But I think at this time of the year you need to be more cautious than aggressive.

''Nathan was really back in full training a week after he had that slight hamstring and has been training very solidly for two weeks, and Courtenay's the same.

''The interesting thing with our hamstrings is that the guys have been back and running flat out a week to 10 days after they've hurt them, and that's enabled us to get some good workload into the guys for another week before we've had to play them.''

Colyer's introduction - after a strong pre-season, he broke his thumb on the eve of round one - came at the expense of second-gamer Cory Dell'Olio, with Mark McVeigh unable to break straight into the forward line after overcoming a calf injury.

''Mark was very unlucky not to get in the team,'' Hird said. ''We just thought that with the way Leroy [Jetta] and Alwyn [Davey] have been playing, it's very hard for one of them to miss out. They've been exceptional for us since Alwyn came into the team and we've gone that way. But there's no doubt Mark will be in line for selection next week.''