Essendon coach John Worsfold has revealed Conor McKenna missed last week's loss to Brisbane due to homesickness, but he expects the defender to return to action against GWS on Friday night.
McKenna flew home to Ireland in February due to homesickness - the third such time he had returned in recent months.
The 24-year-old was then caught up in a huge COVID-19 scare when he tested positive to the virus upon returning to Australia.
McKenna recovered from that setback to play three straight games from rounds six to eight, but was a surprise omission for last week's 63-point loss to the Lions.
The Irish defender still played a scratch match that week and Worsfold revealed on Wednesday homesickness was the reason why McKenna was left out of AFL action.
"As we know, Conor's been having some motivational - or some areas of motivation - that have challenged him with homesickness and things like that," Worsfold said.
"Last week we felt, in consultation with Conor, that he wasn't at his best to play in the senior side.
"It wasn't us initiating that conversation."
Worsfold said McKenna was now doing much better.
"He's really good. He most likely will be available for selection this week," Worsfold said.
"Conor has people here who he's really close with and can talk to.
"And that shows that things are working for us - that he's comfortable to talk to people around the footy club about how he feels rather than just getting into a spiral by forcing himself out onto the field when maybe he doesn't feel like he's going to cope with that."
Meanwhile, Worsfold is hopeful injury-plagued forward Joe Daniher will play again this year but he wasn't giving any guarantees.
Daniher has battled persistent groin issues in recent years and he suffered another setback last month when he injured his calf at training.
The 26-year-old is edging closer to an AFL return, but Worsfold isn't 100 per cent sure Daniher will play this year.
"I don't know the answer to that, because there's so many things you have to take into account in that regard," Worsfold said.
"Someone asked me weeks ago if I could guarantee it (his return). Well, I don't know, can you guarantee we'll find a vaccine for COVID-19?
"There's no guarantees in life. We're excited about the way he's moving. We were really disappointing when he got that little calf strain, but he's starting to come through that and he'll be joining in more full training this week, which we're really pleased to see."