Essendon’s tumultuous pre-season has been dealt yet another blow with star defender Conor McKenna returning home to Ireland due to homesickness.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the club confirmed that McKenna, who was one of the stars of the Bombers’ 2019 campaign, was heading home due to “homesickness and family-related reasons”.
Despite McKenna’s abrupt decision to head back to Ireland, the dashing defender is widely expected to return prior to the start of the home and away season.
McKenna’s absence is a blow to the Bombers in their preparations for the 2020 season, but the club’s GM of football Dan Richardson said the 23-year-old has it’s full sport.
“We have been in lengthy discussions with Conor over recent weeks and we are completely supportive of him returning home to be with his family at this time,” Richardson said in the club statement.
“We remain in constant communication with both Conor and his family and we will continue to provide our support during this period.”
McKenna’s decision to head to Ireland during the pre-season comes after a number of the club’s high-profile players have suffered through interruptions to the start of the year.
Club captain Dyson Heppell (foot), Orazio Fantasia (hip), Joe Daniher (groin), Michael Hurley (shoulder), Cale Hooker (hip), Tom Bellchambers (knee) and David Zaharakis (ankle) have all had interrupted starts to their pre-seasons.
Daniher, who requested a trade away from the club during last year’s Trade Period, has only recently started running and is likely to be sidelined for the first half of the season.