INJURY-plagued Essendon forward Orazio Fantasia could join Dylan Shiel and Jake Stringer as big recalls for their AFL clash with Hawthorn.
Coach John Worsfold said on Tuesday that Fantasia is yet to prove his fitness but is on track for Friday night’s match at Marvel Stadium.
Shiel and Stringer will return from hamstring injuries.
“He trained on the weekend and if he ticks all the other boxes that he has to tick, he’ll be ready to go,” Worsfold said of Fantasia.
“Some of the younger players are performing really well.
“Ultimately if they aren’t performing at the level that will hold those more experienced or senior players out, then they do make way until their performance says they’re in front of those guys.”
The Bombers went into last week’s mid-season bye with five wins and six losses, having secured a pressure-releasing victory over Carlton in round 11.
With only percentage separating the 10th-placed Bombers and 11th-placed Hawks, their clash game will be important for both teams’ finals aspirations.
But a typically taciturn Worsfold dismissed talk of the primetime showdown being a big game for the club.
“It really wouldn’t matter to me whether it was Friday night or Saturday arvo,” he said.
“Our focus is on working our backsides off to become a really good team and play consistent footy.
“Our focus has to be on committing what we want to achieve.”
With several stars set to return, Worsfold acknowledged midfielder Dylan Clarke was at risk of losing his spot, despite performing an excellent shutdown role on Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps in just his second AFL game.
Worsfold said there were no guarantees the Bombers would bother with a tagging role on Hawks onballer Jaeger O’Meara.
He also suggested utility Aaron Francis was likely to remain in front of goal despite Stringer and most likely Fantasia returning to bolster the forward line.
“He’s been playing up forward for us with the number of injuries we’ve had to our forwards,” Worsfold said.
“Really, it’s going to be where we need him to play. He can play both ends.
“He’s another young player who’s in the very early stages of his career, so he’s not settling into a role just yet but that will come in time for him.”
© AAP 2019