Essendon GM of football Josh Mahoney says the ball is in Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti's court in terms of returning to senior action with the Bombers.
The 29-year-old forward last appeared in an AFL game in Round 21, 2021 against the Western Bulldogs, and has managed five VFL games this season after taking a leave of absence from The Hangar in February.
Speaking on Sportsday on Monday, Mahoney provided an update on the livewire's progression - noting that McDonald-Tipungwuti hasn't met the club's requirements as of yet.
"He's making progress, but he was interrupted by a two-week break with COVID which probably pushed it back a little bit," Mahoney said.
"He just wasn't able to do the training that we need him to do, he's making some progress but he's still a bit away from the requirements to be able to perform at AFL level.
"We'll keep supporting him in that and hopefully we get there."
The Gippsland Power product's contract at Essendon is set to expire at the conclusion of this season.
Before re-committing to McDonald-Tipungwuti, the Bombers want to know that he still has the desire to play senior AFL footy.
"At some stage, we will [make a decision on a new contract]," Mahoney continued.
"He is out of contract, one of a number of players, and we've got to work with 'Walla' (McDonald-Tipungwuti) on what is the best thing for him to do … as we said before, we'll work hard with him to try and get him back to AFL level, he's now missed a fair chunk of time, the back half of last year and all of this year.
"So he hasn't played footy for a long period of time, we've got to know that he's committed to getting back and if he is, then we'll support him in doing that."
McDonald-Tipungwuti has averaged 1.4 goals across his five games of VFL action this season.