The good news keeps coming for unbeaten Essendon with key duo Orazio Fantasia and Conor McKenna on track to play against Melbourne.
The high-flying Bombers are third on the ladder and can improve to a 3-0 record for the first time since 2013 with a win against the Demons at the MCG on Sunday.
John Worsfold’s side could be boosted by the returns of Fantasia (quad) and McKenna, who wasn’t considered last week because his preparation was hampered by a two-week hotel quarantine on his return from Ireland.
Fantasia was absent from the team that scored a dramatic six-point win over Sydney at the SCG but will push his claims this week.
“He is going to be very close,” Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday.
“Friday is our main training and that’s where he’s going to have to get through and prove to us that he’s available for selection, but it all appears to be tracking pretty well.
“We expect him to do full training and after that we’ll work out whether he’s available.”
A homesick McKenna returned to Ireland in February and didn’t play in Essendon’s season-opening win over Fremantle despite rejoining his teammates in early March.
The versatile speedster went back to Ireland to wait out the coronavirus-enforced AFL season shutdown, but the timing of his return to Essendon hurt his selection chances.
“He felt like he was ready to play, and he looks ready to play, but taking (his quarantine) into account, putting him into an AFL game would’ve been pretty high risk,” Worsfold said.
“He’d only been out of quarantine and in training for two weeks and we needed every minute of the four weeks training together once we were back to get the squad prepared to play.
“The extra week we’ve used to get a good hit-out into him and we feel like he’s a lot better prepared now.”
Worsfold reported skipper Dyson Heppell has pulled up well from his first game since undergoing two off-season foot surgeries that kept him out of round one.
The coach is adamant that injury-cursed star Joe Daniher is making solid progress in his recovery from the groin issues that have limited him to 11 senior appearances in the past two seasons.
However, he is still reluctant to forecast when the spearhead will be able to resume his 104-game career.