Essendon insist they have done everything possible to make sure that Nathan Grima’s back is ready for an AFL comeback.
The former North Melbourne defender is the ninth player that the Bombers have signed to top up the side.
They have lost 12 players to doping suspensions for the season.
Grima retired last year because of a back injury and eventually had surgery.
Essendon recruiting manager Adrian Dodoro said they did not make the decision to recruit Grima overnight.
“We’ve had ongoing discussions with Nathan, his surgeon and the North Melbourne medical team,” he said.
“(We) obviously needed to conduct significant due diligence before we put an offer on the table.
“We know Nathan is a very talented player, but we needed to make sure his body is capable of enduring the physical demands and challenges of an AFL season.
“He passed an extremely thorough medical, a tough fitness assessment by our strength and conditioning team, and was given the all clear to resume full contact sport by his surgeon.
Dodoro said Grima would give them much-needed experience in defence.
Grima played 86 games for the Kangaroos and kicked his only AFL goal against Essendon three years ago.
The 30-year-old said his surgeon had given him the confidence to make an AFL comeback.
“After the club’s medical staff put me through my paces, I had no doubt in my body or my decision,” he said.
“My heart is in this 100 per cent.
“My wife, family and friends are behind me 100 per cent, and I was never content finishing my career the way I did.”
Under AFL rules, the Bombers can still recruit one more top-up player.