Premiership defender Liam Duggan has been ruled out of action for the next five-to-six weeks after scans have revealed a high ankle sprain.

Duggan has been one of the Eagles’ more reliable defenders over the past two seasons with his leadership, strong physical presence and neat skills off half back making him a mainstay of Adam Simpson’s defensive unit.

The 22 year-old sustained the injury in the opening term against the Dockers and bravely played out the game, but general manager of football Craig Vozzo said Duggan would spend the next five to six weeks “off-legs” to rest his injury.

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“Unfortunately for Liam the ankle has cooled down not too well, post-game,” Vozzo said.

“Our guys have indicated it’s a high ankle sprain, the old syndesmosis injury.

“It’s looking like he’ll be a five or six week ‘off-legs’ (period) and then building to training (and then) to play.

“So unfortunately it’s an extended period out.”

Veteran spearhead Josh Kennedy, who missed Saturday’s RAC Derby due to illness, is expected to train throughout the week and line up against Collingwood on Friday night.

“JK went down during the week gradually and then suddenly (on game day) with a virus, which kept him out of the game on Saturday night, but he’s recovering quite well with rest” Vozzo said.

“He was in the club yesterday doing some individual training, we expect him to train today and gradually improve to be available for the Collingwood game.”

Like Kennedy, youngsters Jarrod Brander (calf) and Jack Petruccelle (hamstring) simply need to complete training for the week to be available for selection.

“Both boys had a fairly heavy training session on the weekend which they came through and hit all the relevant markers that they needed to hit to make themselves available for full training this week,” Vozzo said.

“On the basis they get through they’ll both be available to play.”

There is some disappointing news for premiership ruckman Nathan Vardy, who is now fighting an ankle issue as well as the knee injury he sustained in the WAFL last weekend, while midfielder Mark Hutchings’ hamstring rehabilitation is moving more slowly than was first hoped.

Vozzo said Vardy was aiming for a return in three weeks’ time while Hutchings should return in a fortnight.

“He’s progressing quite well now, the knee is actually on a pretty fast acceleration rate to improvement, the ankle has been a little slower than expected,” he said.

“We’re thinking it’ll be about AFL 19 that he’ll be available to play.

 “Mark is going to be a slower progression, our guys have said with the hamstring strain that he’s suffered, at this stage we’re thinking it’s probably another two weeks before he’s available for selection.”

In more positive news, rookies Patrick Bines (hernia) and Harry Edwards (foot) have begun to ramp up their efforts and are on the verge of resuming full training, while premiership forward Daniel Venables has finally ‘turned the corner’ with his serious concussion issue.

“Patrick Bines and Harry Edwards have both had long-term injuries as we know but are both really accelerating through their rehab programs now, to a point where they’re main training, they’re not far off that,” Vozzo said.

“I expect that they’re going to be available for game minutes somewhere around AFL 19 or 20.  

“Dan Venables had that really nasty head knock back in the Melbourne game which has been a serious concussion incident that we’ve handled very conservatively given the way Dan has been feeling.

“But we seem to be turning the corner a little, I don’t want to talk too early, but he has done some on-ground work this week, largely because he’s feeling significantly better than he was.

“Slowly, slowly we’re getting there, but we’re not setting any timelines or expectations.

“We’ll just take it slowly and get Dan right to the point where we get him to 100 per cent.”