A thumb injury has interrupted Essendon ruckman Nick Bryan's return for pre-season training, with the emerging tall the latest Bomber facing a stint on the sidelines ahead of the new year.

Bryan sustained a high-grade ligament injury to his thumb in his first session back at Tullamarine this week, with the 22-year-old undergoing surgery shortly after.

The procedure isn't expected to force Bryan to the sidelines for long, with the fringe ruckman likely to be back training fully post-Christmas.

“Nick injured his thumb in contest work on Monday and scans revealed a ligament injury that required surgery. The surgery was successful, and he will be wearing a splint that will allow him to participate in the majority of training over the next few weeks,” Essendon football bis Dan McPherson said in a club injury update.

“He will be back running in a number of days, and whilst the injury is an inconvenience, and will cause him to be slightly modified for a number of weeks leading up to Christmas, it won't have a significant impact on his pre-season.”

Bryan's minor setback adds to another pre-season ailment among Essendon's ruck stocks this off-season, with first-string tall Sam Draper having undergone surgery on a troublesome groin in September.

AFL Rd 7 - Essendon v Carlton
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 02: Nick Bryan of the Bombers and Marc Pittonet of the Blues compete in the ruck during the round seven AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 02, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

After a back-end of the 2023 season that left Draper sidelined, the Bombers made the early call to put their star ruck under the knife, with a return to full training expected in the new year.

Draper and Bryan played 14 and eight games this year respectively, with veteran Andrew Phillips featuring in 20 matches before calling time on his career.

Phillips' absence is set to be filled by free agent recruit Todd Goldstein, who has made the move to Essendon from North Melbourne.