Fletcher cleared for 400th AFL milestone

A huge week of celebrations loom for Essendon with veteran Dustin Fletcher on track to play his 400th AFL match on Saturday night.

The 40-year-old was subbed out of the Bombers’ 58-point win against Brisbane on Sunday after jarring his knee in a marking contest in the third quarter.

But coach James Hird is confident Fletcher will reach his milestone against Richmond at the MCG.

“We were going to sub him with five minutes to go in that quarter but we just couldn’t get him off, then he landed awkwardly but he’s 100 per cent fine,” Hird said.

“So he’ll be there for next week. Unless he falls over in the shower he’ll play his 400th next week, which is huge for our footy club and huge for Fletch and his family.

“He’s just been a star and played well again today.

“It’s going to be a big week.”

This year’s Dreamtime at the ‘G clash is a Tigers’ home game, but Hird dismissed suggestions the club could be tempted to rest Fletcher to allow him to reach his milestone in front of an Essendon home crowd when they play Geelong at Etihad Stadium in round 10.

“The marketing department are pretty keen for that but it’s football and he’s one of our better players, so we need him to play,” Hird said.

“If he’s sore he won’t play but at the moment he’s penciled in to play against Richmond.

“It’s a huge game anyway and it’s even bigger for us.”

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