Port Adelaide premiership player Kane Cornes has identified the AFL club that could suffer the biggest drop in their prospects next season.
Cornes feels that Essendon's pre-season injury worries will have a negative impact next year.
“If there’s a club that is set to fall from grace… it could be the Bombers (in 2020)," Cornes said on SEN's The Captain's Run.
“There are warning signs that you can read throughout a pre-season.
“Last week Essendon revealed it has only got 23 fit players in full training and a long list of players recovering from in-season or post-season surgery.
“Dyson Heppell’s got a foot injury, (Michael) Hurley’s got a shoulder, (David) Zaharakis has just had more surgery on a knee after initially having surgery on an ankle. (Orazio) Fantasia’s banged up again, he’s got a hip (injury), (Joe) Daniher’s still got a groin, (Matt) Guelfi’s got a knee, Marty Gleeson’s got an ankle.
“You’ve got 23 players that are fit. We saw what happened to Melbourne last year when no one completed the pre-season. They had about the same amount of players training.”
Cornes questioned the club's injury management heading into pre-season and the preparation for their 2020 campaign.
“How have they managed the squad so badly? Cale Hooker’s also in a bit of trouble, he’s got some back soreness, Sam Draper’s coming off a full knee reconstruction. 23 players," he added.
“The rule that we used to work off is you need abut 70% of your players to complete about 80% of the pre-season to have a really solid foundation to set yourself up for a good year. That’s not going to be the case for Essendon.
“There’s an injury crisis there.”
Along with the issues with the squad's fitness and health, Cornes zeroed in on the coaching succession plan.
“You’ve got a really questionable coaching succession plan which I still can’t get my head around, where Ben Rutten - who’s untried, he’s untested, we don’t know if he can coach - he’s going to take over from John Worsfold," he said further.
“Clearly they are unsure whether (Worsfold) can do the job, so this was the easy way for them to do it, transition John Worsfold out, get Ben Rutten in. Not sure all the players are all that excited about that. That’s a warning sign.
“You’ve got Joe Daniher, your best player, he wants out and he’s also injured. Another warning sign. Your second-best forward Orazio Fantasia is questioning his position at the club during the trade period - yes I get that he ended up staying and that’s good, but he was at least questioning his future.
“If you are picking one club to go backwards at a rapid rate next year, I’m tipping the Bombers.”