Returning Bomber Jake Carlisle will play forward against Brisbane on Sunday with Essendon coach James Hird feeling his best AFL form isn’t far away.
Carlisle has overcome a neck injury for the Etihad Stadium clash with the resurgent Lions after missing last week’s loss to North Melbourne.
The Bombers have struggled for goals, averaging just 10 a game in the first seven rounds with Carlisle offering seven in six games, but Hird felt his form was improving.
Hird said he expected Carlisle to be a little off the pace early on with his pre-season interrupted by a knee injury.
The 23-year-old had an impressive 2013 season as a key defender but Hird ruled out moving him back.
“Jake’s committed to playing forward and he’s doing a relatively good job,” Hird said.
“We were thinking that last week he was going to hit some form.
“We’re confident Jake’s going in the right direction.”
Former Greater Western Sydney player Shaun Edwards may also make his club debut and join Carlisle in the forward line.
Hird said Edwards offered some x-factor to the mix.
“Shaun adds some real speed and ability, agility and he is a very hard player to play on because he does unusual things. He doesn’t do everything like someone would normally do,” Hird said.
“We’ll wait and see how everyone trains but Shaun’s definitely very close if not in the team this week.
“He adds something we probably don’t have.”
Hird confirmed veteran Paul Chapman and Adam Cooney will also return from injury to face the Lions, who are coming off successive victories including a 37-point win over Port Adelaide last round.
Essendon are looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat.
Meanwhile, Hird said he wasn’t fazed about reports the World Anti-Doping Agency will push for its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing to be held in Switzerland.
“It’s beyond me. It will be where it will be, I think it’s a long way away before that decision’s made.
“But Switzerland, Melbourne or Sydney, I think the result will be the same,” Hird said.