Essendon want ruckman Shaun McKernan to regain form after an indifferent start to the AFL season.
He was one of three players – along with Craig Bird and Jonathan Simpkin – dropped for Saturday’s MCG match against Melbourne as the makeshift Bombers continue to search for their best senior lineup.
“Shaun hasn’t been in great form over the last three weeks,” said coach John Worsfold, who admitted the Bombers were still playing catchup after losing 12 players to doping suspensions.
“He certainly hasn’t given us enough when he’s been forward.
“We still have a fair way to go to say exactly the way we want to structure our lineup.
“The message (to fans) is around ‘be patient while we’re working out exactly how we want to see things and where we’re going to play players, and which roles’.
“That’s been the key thing, nothing around the age of players or anything like that.”
Former Collingwood rookie Michael Hartley will make his AFL debut, while Nick Kommer was named for his first game since 2013 and Orazio Fantasia also returns.
Kommer finally returns after overcoming persistent knee problems, with Worsfold saying the hard-nosed forward had worked hard to gain another chance.
“When I arrived, there were still serious questions about whether he would be able to get back and play AFL footy,” he said.
“We were working through our list management process, so we had to have those discussions about Kommsy.
“We knew he had the attitude to try and get back and believed that after all the medical advice, he deserved the opportunity.”
Despite the predictions of a barren season for Essendon, Worsfold remains upbeat.
When it was put to him on Friday that wins will be hard to come by, he shot back: “that’s every year – Hawthorn are saying that now.
“Every week, we’re going to see it as a chance to get a win.
“But every week, we see it as a chance to go out and improve, learn about each other and start to build some real strong chemistry.”
Past Essendon greats will be part of a pre-game promotion on Saturday as the club tries to rally fans in the wake of the long-running supplements debacle.