Bombers’ youngster Nik Cox is a “genuine test” for this week after suffering another ankle injury in the Dons’ loss to the Bulldogs according to Head of High Performance Sean Murphy.

Cox was subbed out during the Round 7 clash but remains a chance to play against the Hawks’ this weekend.

“’Coxy’ jarred that ankle in the second quarter. It’s the same side he had previously, but a different feeling in the ankle,” Murphy told

“We’ll give him every chance to be available.”

Devon Smith has suffered a knee setback, with the midfielder-forward set to be out for the next 2-4 weeks after suffering “knee pain and swelling”. Smith missed the Bombers’ VFL clash last week, with Murphy saying the club will give him time to recover.

“He’s not feeling quite right to get out there and perform, so we’re going to give him a couple of weeks to settle that down and then build him back up again."

The Bombers are expecting both Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (H&S Protocols) and Aaron Francis (Illness) to return to training, after also missing last week’s VFL match, while Tex Wanganeen (ankle) and Andrew Phillips (hamstring) remain tests for this week.

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Jake Stringer may have to wait until the club’s Round 12 bye before he returns from another hamstring injury. The club is still hopeful that the star forward could return before then.

Young tall Harrison Jones is another one that could return before the Round 12 bye, but Murphy said the club will be cautious with his return.

“He’s missed so much (footy), so we want to be cautious with him and make sure we’re getting good loads into him so that we’re having a good result once he gets back playing,” Murphy said.

Essendon has also ruled out a pre-bye return for midfielder Kyle Langford as he recovers from a long-term hamstring injury that he suffered early into the Dons’ Round 1 clash against Geelong.