**Essendon coach John Worsfold says development will be a priority at the footy club in 2017**
March 8, 2017 5:50pm
SARAH [email protected]
Source: FOX SPORTS
ESSENDON Coach John Worsfold says younger players will be favoured over their older counterparts if their form is on par this season.
With 10 suspended players back at the club, the list at Worsfold’s disposal is barely recognisable to the makeshift one he was dealt in 2016.
Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker headline the returning players, with Worsfold indicating all four — including the injured Hooke — were on track to play in Round 1 against Hawthorn.
Despite this, Worsfold told Fox Footy’s AFL Tonight youth would be preferenced over experience, with the Bombers looking to develop its next crop of stars
“A young player that can contribute at the same level as one of those senior players really should be getting that opportunity,” Worsfold said.
“But that’s not taking away from the respect that the older players have.
“That will be communicated: that if we have a young player knocking the door down and not getting an opportunity and one of those older players are just chugging along and we know that kid can offer as much — or potentially more — they need to get an opportunity.
“We’ll be working through those issues as we go. But INITIALLY we’ll be selecting the best team, the team we think will perform the best for the Essendon Footy Club in Round 1.”
While the Bombers have started their “comeback story”, Worsfold said trust was still being rebuilt with the players.
The Essendon coach said transparency was key, with the club ticking everything off to accommodate the playing group.
“Communication is a massive thing,” Worsfold said.
“Everything we do, we tell them why we’re doing it, how it’s going to fit for us. We get a lot of feedback from them and make sure they’re comfortable with the direction we tell them we’re going in.
“The club put a lot of things in place over the last three or four of years to make sure that we mitigate risks and don’t ever face the situation that we’ve just come out of.
“That means we do have to tick a lot of boxes in bringing in new ideas to the footy club, and that’s really how it should be. The players are seeing that and that gives them a level of comfort.”
Worsfold urged all supporters to descend on the MCG for the club’s first hit out against the Hawks, in what will be the first match in a year and a half for a plethora of Bombers.
“It’s going to be a special night for the footy club and those guys running out,” Worsfold said.
Good rocket for the senior players who will get first crack at it, good incentive for the the younger players to play well and force their way into side.
Fire up boys. We going for the round1 W!