Fletcher runs out of time for AFL farewell

Essendon legend Dustin Fletcher has almost certainly played his last AFL game for the Bombers after he failed to prove his fitness for Sunday’s season-ending clash with Collingwood.

Fletcher hasn’t played since he reached his 400-game milestone against Richmond at the MCG in round nine due to complications associated with a persistent groin injury.

Interim coach Matthew Egan has spoken of his desire to get the 40-year-old back in the side for a last hurrah and admitted it was tempting to name him even if he wasn’t 100 per cent fit.

Fletcher stopped short of declaring this would be his final season when quizzed on the issue at his recent book launch but is widely expected to announce his retirement in the coming days.

The decimated Bombers will be without retired triple-premiership player Paul Chapman and the suspended Courtenay Dempsey, while Michael Hibberd and Nick O’Brien are out injured.

Tayte Pears, Alex Browne and Ariel Steinberg are among the seven inclusions for the MCG clash.

The Magpies lost Dane Swan, Marley Williams and Ben Sinclair to injury and added six players to an extended squad, including Alan Toovey and Paul Seedsman.

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