Watson, Fletcher out of AFL date with Cats

Essendon will head into Saturday’s crunch AFL match against Geelong without experienced duo Jobe Watson and Dustin Fletcher.

The pair both picked up slight strains from the Bombers 13-point loss to Richmond on Saturday night.

Essendon club doctor Bruce Reid said a scan to Watson’s groin on Monday revealed a “very minor strain”.

“In the second half he was tight in his groin,” Reid told Essendon’s website.

“We’ll see how he pulls up later in the week. Worst case scenario, he’ll miss one.”

The club ruled out both the skipper and Fletcher, who suffered an adductor strain prior to his fourth term substitution in his 400th AFL appearance.

“He had a little incident in his adductor and it shows just a strain too … it’s at the lower end,” Reid said.

Watson and Fletcher combine for 597 matches of AFL experience, and the Bombers can ill-afford their unavailability having lost three of their past four games.

Both Essendon and Geelong head into their Etihad Stadium match with win-loss records of 4-5, making a win essential to keep pace with the top eight.

Reid also ruled out David Zaharakis until after the Bombers’ bye in round 12, though Jason Winderlich could return to football this weekend.

A back injury has sidelined Winderlich throughout 2015 but the midfielder has been pencilled in for the club’s VFL curtain raiser on Saturday afternoon.

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