Conor McKenna, Tom Bellchambers, David Myers
Matthew Leuenberger (Suspension), Jackson Merrett (Omitted), Matt Guelfi (Omitted)
Team selection - Rd 7
Essendon has made three changes to its side for its crucial clash with Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday, with Conor McKenna set to inject some speed into the team.
McKenna joins the side after serving a three-week suspension and coach John Worsfold said it was always his intention to bring the dashing defender back into the team immediately after the ban.
“Conor has been in pretty good form and yes, (it was) always looking that he was likely to come in,” Worsfold said on Thursday.
“But it wasn’t a certainty, we wanted to wait and see what we felt we needed in the team and obviously who we were playing and the line-up.”
Worsfold was impressed with the way McKenna has trained on the track during his time out of the side and said he will be ready to fire on Saturday.
“He got some really good loads in. It’s a hard part that he had to probably train harder than he would have if he had have played a game on the weekends.
“So he’s fresh, but he’s done the work.”
Experienced pair Tom Bellchambers and David Myers have also taken their place in the line-up after being rested for the side’s loss to Melbourne last week.
Worsfold said it would be good to have their experience back in the side and thought they could both put in strong displays.
“We expect them to come and play the role that we all expect; to bring the effort and the intensity that we want from every player on the squad.
“Obviously there was a strong indication that those two wouldn’t have been able to play with the required effort against Melbourne, so the spell from ANZAC Day through to Saturday will do them a world of good.”
Young midfielder Matt Guelfi has been withdrawn from the side despite impressing in his first two matches, but Worsfold explained his omission is intended to give the tough on-baller a rest.
“We were really pleased with what Matt showed in his two games.
“But to make his debut and play two games in such a short period of time – ANZAC Day into the Melbourne game – that’s a real challenge for any player, let alone a first-year player.
“It’s really around managing his workload and having a strong feel that he would be too sore and carry too much fatigue into this weekend’s game.”
Matthew Leuenberger (one-week suspension) and Jackson Merrett are the other withdrawals and Worsfold said Merrett had not been able to translate his strong form into the senior team.
“Jacko had a couple of games (and) really just struggled to impact last week.
“So it was disappointing, because his form has been good. (It is) disappointing for Jacko that he couldn’t just get into the rhythm of it.
“So we’ve made a change there to make sure that the guys in the forward line, we believe, are in pretty good form.”
Worsfold said he intends on playing more of Essendon’s younger brigade of players in the remainder of the season with a determined focus on the future of the club.
“Our absolute focus is to get the club in a position to win its next premiership and we’re really searching through our list and looking for the players that are going to help make that up,” he said.
“So we will play some more young players throughout the year and make sure that we’re all very clear that we’re getting closer to Essendon’s next premiership.”
He also said having the full support of Essendon’s loyal fan base would be important as the side looks to bounce back to its best form.
“It’s always important, we’re all in it together. We love our supporters, they’ve stuck with us, they’ve been great over all the way through the last couple of years.
“Hopefully they’ve enjoyed some of the exciting games that we’ve put on for them and we’re going to continue to try to do that.”
B – McKenna, Hurley, Saad
HB – Ambrose, Hooker, Baguley
C – McGrath, Goddard, Mutch
HF – Laverde, Stewart, McDonald-Tipungwuti
F – Smith, Daniher, Zaharakis
R – Bellchambers, Parish, Heppell
I/C – Stringer, Z. Merrett, Myers, McNiece
Emergencies – Ridley, Langford, Guelfi, McKernan