Dons odds-on to keep No.1 AFL draft pick

Essendon look increasingly likely to retain the No.1 pick in this year’s AFL draft as they hunt for a midfielder who can provide them with an immediate boost.

The Bombers will go into Monday’s trade period with open minds but list manager Adrian Dodoro says they are a long-shot to trade their top selection given the depth of talent in this year’s draft.

“It probably won’t happen,” he said on Saturday.

“There’s been clubs that have asked about it but at this point there’s been no serious offers.

“We’ll consider anything but I think our focus at the moment is concentrating on evaluating the talent that’s here and putting it in the order that we want to take.”

Classy onballer Hugh McCluggage is widely rated as the player likely to go first in the draft after an outstanding under-18 season and has said he would be happy to join the Bombers, who finished last this season after losing 12 players to doping bans.

Essendon intend to take a midfielder with their top selection and are confident whoever they choose will make an immediate impact and be versatile enough to play in multiple positions.

Dodoro says the Bombers will keep their cards close to their chest ahead of the trade period but ruled out any interest in Richmond star Brett Deledio, whose future has been the subject of persistent speculation.

He declined to say whether the club would consider trying to lure Brisbane’s Tom Rockliff or Pearce Hanley but played down the prospects of a potential trade for West Coast key defenders Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown.

The pair, who have fallen out of West Coast’s best 22, were identified as potential trade targets by Essendon coach John Worsfold, who coached them during his time at the Eagles.

“In fairness to John, I think he mentioned those before Michael Hurley had committed to the club,” Dodoro said.

“We’ve got Hurley, (Cale) Hooker coming back, who are All-Australian key defenders, so I think we’re pretty well-stocked for key defensive players.”

Dodoro said he expected defender Michael Hibberd’s trade to Melbourne would be “fairly straightforward”, with the cost likely to be a second-round draft pick.

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