‘Dons to lay down clear AFL goals

Essendon will soon decide what success means for them this AFL season.

The doping suspension of 12 current players, including several stars, has gutted the team for this year.

Essendon have brought in eight players with senior experience to help fill the void, but they will do well to finish above the bottom couple of teams.

It is a unique situation and coach John Worsfold said the players will soon start learning exactly what is expected of them.

“We have a couple of things happening next week and beyond to really be clear about what we want to achieve together this year,” Worsfold said.

“That won’t be just in terms of wins and losses – that will be about how we see each other on the field and how the opposition perceive us and the way we want to play.

“There will be a lot of things we’re measuring over and above wins.”

It was put to Worsfold on Friday that a couple of early wins would do wonders for morale and momentum.

He agreed, but said it would not be the primary objective for the opening rounds.

“It’s not really a priority even for Hawthorn – they don’t regularly talk about getting early wins on the board,” Worsfold said of the three-time defending premiers.

“They talk about how they’re preparing and … everything they’re trying to achieve together.

“But, we all love winning – early wins would be great.”

Worsfold also admitted the Bombers had to change how they prepared the team.

“There’s a slight adjustment – not only in the way we want to play, but how quickly we introduce certain things,” he said.

“The biggest focus for us at the moment is to get the group to gel and understand each other, be able to communicate at the level required to play well together.

“In terms of strategic plays, we’ll just pull back on those a little bit.

“We’ll be a bit more basic and add layers to that as the group get up and going.”

Worsfold and stand-in captain Brendon Goddard have praised the replacement players, with the coach saying those newcomers should no longer be referred to as top ups because they are now part of the team.

Sam Michael is also training with Essendon and could become the ninth addition.

Worsfold said that Mathew Stokes, Mark Jamar, Matthew Leuenberger and Darcy Parrish would either be ruled out or are in doubt for the opening NAB Challenge match on February 28 against Carlton.

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