Essendon star Dyson Heppell admits teammate Jobe Watson has returned to Melbourne looking like he is ready to resume his AFL career.
Watson is the last of the 17 banned current or former Bombers players still on AFL lists yet to announce his football future.
Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell said on Wednesday that he would meet with Watson this week to discuss the matter.
While Heppell and the other current players returned from their doping bans on Wednesday, Watson must wait an extra week because he played in last year’s international rules series.
Heppell said he had no idea of Watson’s intentions.
“Honestly, he’s kept his cards that close to his chest,” Heppell told AFL360.
“I don’t think his dad or anyone knows what he’s doing.
“He’s in really good condition – he’s prepared his body as if he is coming back.
“He’s obviously taking his time to make that call and when he’s ready and when the time is right, he’ll announce that.”
Watson’s father Tim, the AFL commentator and former Essendon premiership captain, said on Thursday that the midfielder would soon go back to New York – but is unsure for how long.
The Bombers player had spent time in that city during his season-long suspension.
Tim Watson said he had no idea what his son has planned.
“Look, whatever way that goes, everyone obviously really respects that decision,” Heppell said.
“”I’d love to have him back at the footy club, but … it will play out in the near future.
Also on Thursday, Heppell said he would love to captain Essendon.
There is speculation that even if Watson returns to the club, it will not be as the skipper.
Heppell was Watson’s deputy last year and Brendon Goddard captained the team this season.
“I’d love to captain the footy club … growing up, (I was) barracking for the club,” Heppell said.
“It’s a childhood dream, I guess.
“I’ve developed a lot as a leader over the last few years and really that’s under Jobe’s guidance.
“There are a lot of fantastic leaders at that footy club and we’ve seen the emergence of a couple of others this year in Zach Merrett and Joey Daniher.”
Heppell said fellow returning players Cale Hooker and David Myers would also be strong captaincy candidates.
“You have a core group of fantastic leaders,” he said.
He added Essendon would not make a decision on next season’s captain in the near future.