Essendon are adamant there is nothing they would have done differently after Joe Daniher was ruled out for the rest of the AFL season.
The All-Australian key forward is likely to have surgery on his troublesome groin, but the Bombers do not think it is career-threatening and they expect him back for the start of next season.
It is another massive blow to their finals hopes, two days after reigning club best and fairest champion Devon Smith was also ruled out for the rest of the season because of knee surgery.
Daniher also missed most of last season because of the groin condition osteitis pubis.
He recovered from a pre-season calf muscle injury to play four games, but his groin soreness has returned.
Bombers football boss Dan Richardson said their medical staff had consulted widely, including other AFL clubs, throughout Daniher's injury rehabilitation.
"If we had our time again, I don't think we'd do anything different," he said.
"He's frustrated, he's disappointed, but he's a supreme optimist.
"There may be a touch of relief, in a way, that 'well, okay, we need to get the surgery done now'."
Richardson said they did not think surgery was necessary last season.
"The likely outcome is surgery as the next step - it was always the last resort," he said.
"The chances of surgery fixing the issue are really high, as we thought the rehab program was .
"We're really confident that he'll be right for pre-season and the 2020 season."
The recurrence of Daniher's injury will inevitably prompt speculation that Essendon mismanaged him, something Richardson strongly denies.
"I don't think it's an accurate statement," he said.
"I can understand the question and I can understand you have to ask the question, but I don't think it's accurate to say this has been mismanaged in any way."
Richardson said the groin problem had only flared in the last week or so.
"I guess it's just the reality of footy, that whatever you do at training is difficult to replicate and the only thing that does is (playing) games," he said.
After making the 2017 All-Australian team, Daniher only managed seven games last season and four this year, including a comeback on Good Friday which cost Essendon a $20,000 fine because of his late addition to the team.
Daniher was rested a fortnight ago, but returned last week.
The Bombers are struggling for consistency with four wins from nine games in a season where they had high hopes of a finals return.
They play Richmond in Saturday night's annual Dreamtime At The 'G blockbuster.
Australian Associated Press