MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 12: Aaron Francis of the Bombers runs during the Essendon Bombers training session at The Hangar on January 12, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Essendon defender Aaron Francis has been granted leave by the club to focus on his mental wellbeing.

As reported by The Age's Peter Ryan, Francis will subsequently miss the Bombers' clash with the Hawks on Sunday in Launceston, and was expected to return to his home state of South Australia for a short break before hopefully returning at the end of next week.

The rising backman has previously required time away from football to aid his mental health, taking breaks from the game in the past.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Aaron Francis of the Bombers handballs during the round five AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 25, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Francis has been limited to 10 games so far this season due to injuries, missing Essendon's Round 11 win over West Coast in Perth after suffering from illness and being a late out for the match.

The 23-year-old returned to Ben Rutten's side the following week in their loss to Richmond before the club's Round 13 bye.

An injury-impacted 2020 season placed Francis on the sidelines for a majority of the campaign as he managed just the eight games in the red and black.

The Bombers are currently without Andrew McGrath (knee), Michael Hurley (hip), Jye Caldwell (hamstring), Dylan Shiel (knee) due to injuries, but are tipped to welcome the returns of Sam Draper, Devon Smith and Peter Wright for Sunday's clash.