Former Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley will be one of four Essendon top-up players to take the field against Carlton in Sunday’s NAB Challenge clash.
John Worsfold confirmed on Thursday that Crowley would play, along with Sam Grimley, Matt Dea and Jonathan Simpkin despite limited pre-season campaigns after being signed as replacements for the 12 Bombers serving suspensions this season.
Crowley, 31, is returning to AFL football after sitting out last season while he served a 12-month ban for an anti-doping code violation.
The coach also confirmed highly-touted No.5 draft pick Darcy Parish will be named in the side, along with fellow draftees Michael Hartley and Mitch Brown for the encounter at Ikon Park.
Worsfold, who was appointed as James Hird’s successor in October, admitted a win would be good for morale after the club was hit with the devastating suspensions.
“These boys love winning even the intra-club games – they want to be on the winning team,” Worsfold said.
“They’re competitors and a win is always fun but obviously there’s not a massive amount at stake if you do win, other than feeling good about yourself.
“(But) I’m going to try not to hang all our morale on whether we win or lose week to week.
“Our morale will be a lot around achieving in other areas and the way that we play out games, the way that we commit to each other and what we’re asking from each other, but a win will certainly be the best way to boost morale.”
Geelong premiership players James Kelly and Mathew Stokes are notable absentees as they continue to work towards peak fitness after retiring at the end of last season.
Former North Melbourne defender Nathan Grima, Melbourne ruckman Mark Jamar and ex-Brisbane player James Polkinghorne were the other top-up players signed by the club, with former Lions ruckman Sam Michael securing the 10th and final replacement berth on Thursday after impressing in a training stint with the club.
“Sam is well known to us now through his participation in training in recent weeks and also last year’s pre-season,” recruiting manager Adrian Dodoro said.
“Sam’s attitude throughout this process has been excellent and we’re excited by what he can bring to the club this season.
“He is a strong-bodied ruckman who complements the big men already on our list.”