Essendon is confident it can get the best out of top draft pick Aaron Francis despite the defender failing in his bid to be traded back to South Australia.
The 20-year-old has played only five games for the Bombers since joining them as their prized pick No.6 selection at the 2015 NAB AFL Draft.
Despite showing flashes of his talent in those games, Francis has struggled to reach the required fitness level to string together senior appearances and has also had injury concerns in his time at the club.
Last month he requested a trade back to one of the South Australian clubs to be closer to his family, but no deal was reached due to limited interest from the Crows and Port Adelaide.
Essendon coach John Worsfold said the Bombers welcomed Francis back into the fold after no trade went through and they believed he could still develop into a quality player.
“I said, ‘[We’re] rapt to still have you here, we’re pumped and want to help you be the best player you can be’ and he was really excited,” Worsfold said this week.
"Maybe at the start of trade period he felt moving back to SA was going to be best for his footy.
“I said to him we understand all of that, we were supportive of it, we’d spoken to him leading into it that if it happens it happens, and if not we’ll see how you go, and he was more than comfortable and excited with coming back.”
Francis was drafted to the Bombers as an intercepting defender who starred as a junior with his marking and powerful kicking. He has also been tried as a forward option for the Bombers at VFL level.