Kelly, Dea to stay with Bombers in AFL

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Kelly, Dea to stay with Bombers in AFL

James Kelly and Matt Dea will play for Essendon again next year.

Kelly and Dea were two notable successes for the Bombers in their tough season, in which 12 players were missing because of doping bans.

They were among the top-up players added to Essendon’s makeshift team who finished last.

Kelly finished equal second in Essendon’s best-and-fairest voting and Dea was ninth.

The Bombers have announced they will offer Kelly and Dea list berths on November 1, at the start of the delisted free agent trade period.

“We have been in constant dialogue with James, Matt and each of their management groups since the end of the season regarding the opportunity for them to return,” Essendon football manager Rob Kerr told the club website.

“They both had outstanding seasons in 2016 and were important leaders for the team both on and off the field.

“We know James and Matt are keen to play on in the red and black and we are looking forward to what they can continue to offer with their experience next season.”

Kelly, a three-time premiership player at Geelong, played 20 games this season and is seven short of his 300 AFL milestone.

Dea, after five seasons at Richmond, has played 21 games for the Bombers and taken his career tally to 52.

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