MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 07: Jake Long of the Bombers tackles Michael Hurley during an Essendon Bomber AFL pre-season training session at True Value Solar Centre on November 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Essendon defender Michael Hurley has limped off with an ankle injury during an Essendon intra-club match on Friday.

The returning Bomber rolled his ankle during a contest in a short practice game, however, Bombers assistant coach Guy McKenna said it was only a minor injury.

“It’s just a little tweak. It’s blown up a fraction, [but] it’s not a huge one. He was obviously not happy about going off as he’s such a great competitor, but [it’s] maybe a week. It’s not a bad one,” McKenna said.

“We’ve got such a break between the three [pre-season] games, so I think ‘Woosha’ (coach John Worsfold) wants to get the chemistry in with what that best 22 looks like.

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“But he’s not going to take any risks as well, as last I looked there’s no premiership in April or May.”

Reigning best and fairest winner Zach Merrett was restricted to limited game time due to a corked thigh, while second-year Bomber Alex Morgan also left the drill early with an ankle injury.

Tom Bellchambers (knee), Cale Hooker (hamstring) and David Myers (managed) did not participate in the match simulation, they were instead a part of a modified training group.

Standout performers from the drill included Darcy Parish, Jobe Watson and Brendan Goddard, Mckenna said there were encouraging signs from many of their leaders.

“With the players who are returning being very senior and very good players, we were hoping that the group last year who moved forward last year didn’t take a step back,” McKenna said.

“Some of those players like Langford, Long and Parish, you can see they’re hungry for success. And their performances around Watson, Zaharakis and Goddard were very good and very encouraging.”

Essendon’s first match in the JLT Community series will be against Collingwood on Thursday, February 16 at Etihad Stadium.