Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley is confident his dangerous key-forward combination of Jay Schulz and Justin Westhoff will be back in tandem for the start of the AFL season.
The duo combined for seven goals in the 25-point win over Essendon in the pre-season match at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
Schulz threw a scare into the Port camp when he hobbled off during the third term of the 1.11.15 (90) to 0.9.11 (65) win and immediately donned the subs’ vest.
But Hinkley said the early indications were that the 28-year-old had only suffered a mid-foot sprain, the same problem he managed successfully throughout the last two months of the 2013 campaign.
“We’re pretty comfortable that he’s OK,” said Hinkley.
“Clearly we won’t know exactly until we get a chance to check it and scan it.
“We think it’s a mid-foot sprain which will be OK.
“Jay did the same thing last year and played through it with no problems.”
Port begin their regular-season campaign back at Etihad Stadium against Carlton on March 16.
The Power started slowly against the Bombers and were 24 points down midway through the opening term.
Westhoff was able to get them going with two goals in the space of 10 seconds, including one from a free kick on the goal-line after Mark Baguley had dragged him to the ground straight after he kicked Port’s opener.
Westhoff finished the match with nine marks and five goals, while Schulz would likely have added to his tally of two had he lasted the whole game.
“We know that the best sides usually end up playing a lot of footy together before they become the best sides,” said Hinkley.
“Jay and Westy have actually had a bit of time together, so you can see that they understand each other quite well.
“That’s important for us.
“But we’ve also got to remember that we’ve got this young group of midfielders and this young group of backs … they’re learning each other’s game whereas Westy and Jay understand each other’s game.”
Essendon coach Mark Thompson said that after the Bombers’ fast start, they became too reactive.
Boom recruit Paul Chapman – who played in two premiership teams under Thompson at Geelong – looked all at sea in the first half of his Bombers’ debut, although he improved markedly after the long break to finish with 24 disposals.
“He didn’t know what was going on for a while there, did he?” said Thompson.
“(It was like he was) playing with strangers.
“But he really dug in because that’s the sort of guy he is – when it gets desperate, he gets down and dirty.
“It was good that he got a few kicks.”
Thompson was confident that running defender Michael Hibberd’s hamstring strain was only a very minor one.