Essendon coach John Worsfold remains confident suspended defender Michael Hibberd will be patrolling the Bombers’ back line – not Melbourne’s – next season.
Hibberd, one of the 12 current Essendon players serving anti-doping bans, has been linked to a move to the Demons when his suspension ends later this year.
“There’s no update other than we’re really keen to have Michael here and part of what we’re building,” Worsfold told reporters on Friday.
“It’s going to be hugely exciting and he’ll look good in our back line next year.”
Hibberd is one of six banned Bombers – skipper Jobe Watson, Michael Hurley, Ben Howlett, Tayte Pears and Brent Stanton are the others – yet to declare their intentions for next season.
The others – Tom Bellchambers, Cale Hooker, Travis Colyer, David Myers, Heath Hocking and Dyson Heppell – have either signed new deals or announced they will honour current contracts to remain with the club.
Essendon are keen to welcome all of them back into the fold and while they’ll allow them time to make a decision on their playing futures, Worsfold concedes the realities of AFL list management demand the club imposes a deadline.
“There will be a timeline … we haven’t set that yet but obviously there will be a final date that we’ll need to know in terms of our decision making. That’s a fair way off,” he said.
“Ultimately we do need to know what the squad will look like. When those decisions have to be made around our current list, we’ll need to know what the intent is of the other (suspended) guys.
While Worsfold is keen to boost his squad with those experienced players, he admitted it won’t be as simple as throwing the club’s doors open when their bans expire.
“Reintegrating 12 players who have been out of the game for a year … there are absolutely things we have to take into account,” he said.
“We’ve already started to think about the reintegration process and the timing of it.
“The players are allowed back in the club in mid-September, so we’re already talking about how that feels and looks for them.”