Hird expects Carlisle to play in AFL

Essendon expect Jake Carlisle to play in Saturday’s big AFL match against Richmond, despite the forward’s illness this week.

Carlisle trained separately from his teammates on Friday morning and also did some work with coach James Hird after the light session.

But Hird expects Carlisle will be right for the annual Dreamtime At The ‘G clash.

“He’s been crook – he’s been sick early in the week,” Hird said.

“He only did a bit of training yesterday and he’s trained today.

“We expect him to play, but he’s had gastro.”

Apart from the game being the showpiece of indigenous round, Essendon veteran Dustin Fletcher will also become only the third AFL player to reach the 400 milestone.

The 40-year-old made his debut in 1993 and joins Hawthorn’s Michael Tuck (426) and Richmond’s Kevin Bartlett (403) in the exclusive club.

North Melbourne’s Brent Harvey is also on 391 and should join them later this season.

“Probably it’s hit home more in the last three or four days than you realise, because you get a lot of messages and hear from a lot of ex-teammates who you had a lot to do with in the early years,” Fletcher said.

“It’s a big deal and a big game.”

Provided Carlisle is right to play and there are no late surprises, Essendon will field an unchanged side for the first time this season.

The Bombers are coming off a win over Brisbane, while Richmond have put their season back on track with impressive performances against Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

“It’s good to go in unchanged – the team performed reasonably well last week,” Hird said.

Richmond made one change, losing Ty Vickery to an ankle injury and recalling youngster Liam McBean.

“They’ve changed the way they’ve played to a certain extent,” Hird said of Richmond’s turnaround.

“They’ve been a bit safer with the ball and the game against North Melbourne (three weeks ago), I think it was 92 points scored off turnovers.

“It seems to us from the outside, they’ve been more conservative with the ball and tried to protect the ball a bit better.

“Their contested football has still been very good and their ground ball has been very good.

“So they’re playing some really good football – we obviously need to play very well to beat them.”

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