As if Essendon doesn’t have enough to deal with heading to Perth to take on West Coast on Saturday, the Eagles will unveil star forward Jack Darling for his first game of the AFL season.
Darling is yet to play in 2015 due to stress fractures in his foot dating back to last year, but after five goals on return in the WAFL for East Perth last week the 22-year-old 90-game, 158-goal forward will be straight back in to take on Essendon on Saturday at Domain Stadium.
That gives the Bombers another headache coming up against an Eagles side that is the second highest scoring team in the AFL led by Josh Kennedy who is leading the Coleman Medal race with 40 goals.
Coach Adam Simpson is glad to have Darling back but is keen to see his third placed team bounce back from last Sunday’s loss to North Melbourne in Hobart.
“It might seem a bit rushed playing one game but that was after two or three weeks of extra than we needed to give him. We are really comfortable that he’s ready to go,” Simpson said.
“For the second week in a row we come up against a team that has its back against the wall, but we’re pretty desperate ourselves at the moment. We’re pretty disappointed we didn’t win last week so we’re desperate.”
Essendon arrive in Perth fresh off a horror loss to Geelong where they didn’t score a goal in the first half with the Bombers having slipped to 13th position with a 4-6 record and with Jake Carlisle to lead the ruck against Nic Naitanui after Tom Bellchambers was dropped.
Coach James Hird, though, is glad to welcome back captain Jobe Watson and to give a debut to Shaun Edwards as he looks for the Bombers to hit back.
“To blame two players for our performance against Geelong is certainly not what we are doing, but those guys need to go back to the VFL and get some form,” Hird said.
“Our captain has come back and Jobe’s such an important player for us and Shaun Edwards comes in as well who we recruited from GWS two years ago and he gets his first game for the club after seven weeks of VFL where he’s been outstanding.
“But we didn’t need wholesale changes. We need to correct some things and really the players in the team are very good players, they just need to play better.”