Crows leaders Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane are racing the clock to be fit for Round One.
Walker experienced hamstring tightness in the third quarter of Adelaide’s last JLT Community Series hit-out against the Brisbane Lions, and took no further part in the game.
General Manager of High Performance Matt Hass said the captain was hoping to be available for the Club’s season-opener against Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval on Sunday, March 26.
“We took a pretty conservative approach (with Walker). We took him from the ground, iced up and made sure that he didn’t do any damage to that hamstring,” Hass said.
“We’ve investigated it and he’s commenced running already this week.
“He’s doing everything he can to tick the boxes that he needs to, to try and get up for Round One.”
Sloane sat out the pre-season competition after fracturing his eye socket at training in January.
The Crows vice-captain started running last week and will continue to increase his training loads.
“Sloaney’s progressing really well. We’re basically guided by the surgeon on healing timeframes with the bone,” Hass said.
“Again, he’s ticking (off) everything that we need and has done everything we’ve asked of him.
“He’s pushing really hard for Round One.”
Brad Crouch (hamstring) and Scott Thompson (shoulder) are both set to return in the SANFL after also missing the Club’s JLT Community Series campaign.
Hass said the midfield duo was progressing well.
“I’ve been really impressed with ‘Crouchy’ in his hamstring rehab. He’s re-introduced all his high-speed running and kicking,” he said.
“We expect him to start playing minutes at SANFL level in the coming weeks.
“Scott’s re-introducing all the contact and contested work. Once he passes those levels, we expect him to, obviously, be back in the main group and available early in the season.”
Defender Jake Lever didn’t feature in the pre-season competition either, but is ready to return from a minor hamstring strain.
“Jake was really close to playing against Brisbane,” Hass said.
“He’s back into main training this week and will make himself available at either level, so that will be a match committee decision going forward.”
Forward Riley Knight and midfielder Dean Gore, who missed the match against the Lions, are also expected to be available for selection at either level next week.
Knight was a late withdrawal on Saturday with Achilles soreness, while Gore was concussed late in Adelaide’s second pre-season clash with former club Geelong.
“Knighta had some awareness in his Achilles. Again, we took the conservative approach with him,” Hass said.
“He ran again yesterday, so he’s made himself available and will train fully this week.
“Gorey has passed most of what he needs to (in regards to concussion testing) and has already started some light-level footy training and conditioning. We expect him to be available Round One.”
Rookie Jono Beech hasn’t played since injuring his calf in the Club’s first pre-season game against Richmond at Etihad Stadium. Beech is also ready to resume full training.
“He (Beech) is just ticking off the last little bit of his rehab,” Hass said.
“He’ll l be re-introduced to the main group this week, and also be available in Round One.”
Defender Kyle Cheney (groin), SANFL co-captain Alex Keath (groin) and draftee Matt Signorello (shoulder) all made successful returns in the Club’s State League trial against Sturt on Saturday.
“It was really positive news with Keath, Cheney and Signorello coming back through the SANFL,” Hass said.
“They played minutes as expected. They’ll progress over the next couple of weeks and make themselves available (for selection at either level).”
Wingman Paul Seedsman (groin) and Tom Doedee (knee) are also aiming to play in SANFL trial matches in the next few weeks.
The Club has two more State League trials, against Woodville-West Torrens on Saturday, March 25 and then Norwood on Friday night, March 31.
“Seeds has done a power of work in building his capacity. He’s tracking along about where we planned him to be,” Hass said.
“He’ll play minutes later in the SANFL trial period and we expect him to make himself available in the early rounds.
“Tommy’s had some patella tendon soreness. He’s a young player, so we’re just trying to build that capacity through his tendon and knee. We’ve been reasonably conservative, made sure that we get on top of it and solve it permanently.
“He’s building up his footy conditioning load and expect him to start playing some SANFL trial minutes and then make himself available early in the year.”
Midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen has had surgery to repair a ruptured ACL in his right knee. Draftee Ben Davis, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his foot, remains on a modified program.