PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Michael Hurley walks out onto the field during an Essendon Bombers AFL training session at Optus Stadium on September 04, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Bombers key defender Michael Hurley is reportedly "months away" from returning to the field as he battles a hip infection that has sidelined his pre-season.

According to Triple M reporter Jay Clark, Hurley's timeframe remains unclear and Essendon aren't expecting their star veteran to be in line for selection for an extended period.

“[Hurley is] months away [from playing footy], it’s fair to say," Jay-Z said on the Triple M's Rush Hour with Bernie, Jars and Blewey.

"He looked gaunt and unwell, and it’s a very serious blood infection stemming from a hip [operation], and the club is still a bit unsure how this all evolved really for Michael Hurley.

"But he was on crutches, and his teammates and coaches [were] happy to see him, but he’s not a well boy.

"Football, it’s fair to say, is a distant thought for him at the moment.

"It’s absolutely about his recovery to full health… the club is bracing not see Michael Hurley for months.

"It’s a very serious issue he’s got at the moment, he’s lost a lot of weight, and his health at the moment is the first priority."

The 30-year-old has joined teammates Andrew McGrath (concussion), Jake Stringer (Achilles), David Zaharakis (knee), Sam Draper (leg) and Patrick Ambrose (foot) in the Bombers' casualty ward this pre-season.

Hurley had been flagged for a return to the forward rotation at Tullamarine ahead of the 2021 season, with the club looking to fill the void left by Joe Daniher.

Essendon managed to gain Gold Coast spearhead Peter Wright in the trade period, while former West Coast forward Alec Waterman joined the red sash this week via the Supplementary Selection Period.

Waterman booted four goals in the Bombers' practice match against Carlton last week and firms for another call-up to Ben Rutten's side to face Geelong in the AAMI Community Series on Saturday night at GMHBA.