Hurley was hospitalised after sustaining a leg/hip infection, remaining under care and away from training duties while Stringer has suffered an Achilles injury, further delaying his 2021 preparations.
Stringer is set to abide by a strengthening regimen instead of returning to full training after aggravating the injury during match simulation, adding to the growing list of casualties at Tullamarine.
Speaking on SEN, Bombers great Tim Watson said the circumstances of Hurley’s injury have been frustrating for all involved.
“It was a hip infection, he was in hospital for five days and they were trying to contain the infection at that time,” Watson said.
“He’s gone home and now he’s in bed at home on strong antibiotics and they’re still trying to deal with the infection.
“The fact that it’s two weeks now that he’s almost been inactive, your muscles really start to wither quickly when you’re on your back like that so that’s got to be real concern.”
While the incumbent pairing will face a tight deadline to play against Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on March 20 to kick-ff their premiership campaign, Heppell has been locked in for selection after overcoming foot and ankle complaints.
Speaking to The Herald Sun, Essendon football boss Josh Mahoney revealed the Bombers’ captain has returned to full training in a new role under coach Ben Rutten.
“Dyson has been managed really well by the medical and high performance team he’s now essentially in full training. He is expecting to play the pre-season games and he’s playing a new role off half back. He gives the defensive some real experience which is important,” he said.
“It was a good decision to get a procedure done at the end of the season and he’s looking forward to getting out there as captain. It’s a decision based on him adding some experience to the defence but also the physical requirements of that role versus the midfield.”