Squad selection - Rd 3
Conor Walsh April 5, 2018 6:20 PM
Speedy forward Orazio Fantasia and tough midfielder David Myers have been added to Essendon’s extended squad ahead of its clash with the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
The pair each completed the side’s main training session on Thursday in their push to return to the side after overcoming knee and calf injuries respectively.
Fantasia had his most impressive season in 2017, booting 39 goals and stamping himself as one of the league’s best small forwards.
But the 22-year-old has been unable to play in any pre-season games this season, while Myers has suffered from minor calf tightness in recent weeks.
Essendon coach Worsfold said both players would put plenty of selection pressure on the match committee and play a full game this weekend in either the senior side or the VFL.
“They feel good, they trained well, so it rounds out a good preparation for those guys. We’re really confident that they’ll play and play well,” Worsfold said on Thursday.
Worsfold said while the players had initially pulled up “really well” from the session, they would still need to show their readiness by recovering well on Friday.
“There’s always the risk that they don’t feel brilliant the next morning, but we’ll deal with all of that as we go forward.
“We obviously weigh up have they done enough to come in and play in the AFL straight away.
“We’re confident they have, but those final decisions still have to be made depending on how they’re feeling.”
Ruckman Shaun McKernan has also been added to the squad at the expense of Matthew Leuenberger and Worsfold said the former Crow adds another dimension to the side.
“He just gives us that good depth of being able to play in the ruck and as a key-position player as well.”
Worsfold also praised a “fresh, ready and really hungry” Mark Baguley who is listed in the squad, but said it would be a “fairly stable” squad heading into the game.
After suffering a disappointing 16-point defeat at the hands of Fremantle last week, Worsfold said he is confident the Bombers can bounce back against the Bulldogs.
“A lot of the improvements that we expect this week are really around players ramping up their energy levels, their desire to play the way we want to play consistently,” he said.
“We were down overall in terms of the way we want to move the ball and getting it inside our forward line and then locking it inside our forward line.
“We’re confident that the players know what it takes to get better at that.”
Worsfold said the side’s main focal point since the loss had been improving those deficiencies, rather than being concerned about the form of his upcoming opponents.
“Really our ultimate aim is that we have full respect for whoever we’re playing week in, week out.
“We were disappointed with our output last week and that’s what we can control and that’s what our whole focus is on this week.”
The extended list of 26 players will be trimmed to finalise the team on Friday.
B – Dea, Hurley, Saad
HB – Goddard, Brown, McKenna
C – Heppell, Stringer, McGrath
HF – Parish, Hooker, McDonald-Tipungwuti
F – Merrett, Daniher, Stewart
R – Bellchambers, Zaharakis, Smith
I/C – Green, Fantasia, Myers, Baguley, Hartley, McKernan, Langford, Begley