Essendon coach James Hird believes Jobe Watson will overcome the disappointment of an early finish to season 2015 and come back stronger next year.
Watson spoke of his frustrations with the game leading up to his 200th appearance on Sunday, in which the Bombers were humbled by 110 points to St Kilda.
The inspirational captain was used as a forward, collecting just eight touches in the Dons’ dirty day.
Scans following the match showed he needed season-ending surgery on his left shoulder, which was carried out on Wednesday.
Hird said doctors had reported a successful operation and with a 12-16 week recuperation, he was hopeful of seeing Watson healthy for the club’s next pre-season.
And when that comes around, Hird said the 2012 Brownlow medallist would resume as club captain.
“If he wants to be the captain of the Essendon football club next year then I think he should be,” he said.
“I don’t think we need to talk about that until the end of the year and I’ll sit down with Jobe and talk about it.
“If he wants to do something else with it then we’ll talk about that.
“He’s the captain, he’s the best person to be the captain.”
Hird dismissed the idea Watson could be so disillusioned with the game he might walk away.
“There’s no doubt he’s struggled with some form but a lot of that is due to the shoulder injury,” Hird said.
“He hasn’t expressed to me that he won’t come back and with two years to go on his contract, we fully expect him to come back.”
In Watson’s nine-game absence, the Bombers have the chance to anoint a future captain, with Dyson Heppell the obvious candidate.
Heppell, who is in the Bombers’ eight-strong leadership group with Cale Hooker, Paul Chapman, David Zaharakis, Brendon Goddard, Brent Stanton and David Myers has previously spoken of his desire to succeed Watson.