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Lovett backed to shine for Bombers

By John Salvado 08/04/2008 05:20:17 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights reckons Andrew Lovett could spend another decade weaving his magic for the Bombers.

But whether that eventuates is up to the mercurial forward, who has a chequered off-field history.

After serving a club-imposed suspension for missing a pre-season training session, Lovett, 24, returned to the seniors for last weekend's clash with Carlton and made an immediate impact with 21 possessions and two spectacular goals.

"He showed a lot of maturity," Knights said.

"He got challenged a couple of times last week physically and they were prodding him a little bit, but he didn't lose focus.

"His controlled aggression was fine.

"As a coach when you watch a couple of the goals he kicked - at the game you watch him and you think `gee that looked quick'.

"And then you watch it the next on the vision and you think `gees he's burning the turf'.

"... I've said to Andrew directly that I'd like him to play at this club for another eight to 10 years.

"Whether that happens is futuristic, I'm not sure.

"I've got long-term plans for Andrew here, but he's got to hold up his end of the bargain and make sure his professionalism is right where the rest of the group is.

"And I think he has an understanding of that."

Two of the few teammates who match Lovett for speed, Courtenay Dempsey and Leroy Jetta, are currently sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Knights admitted it was a concern that injuries meant he was also unable to consider a number of other forwards including Scott Lucas, Scott Gumbleton, Andrew Welsh and Nathan Lovett-Murray for last week's clash with Carlton.

Lovett-Murray (groin) could return for Friday's game against the hard-running Western Bulldogs, but Welsh (hamstring) will have to come back through the VFL with Bendigo.

No.1 ruckman David Hille is a definite starter against the Bulldogs, despite spending time off the ground last weekend with a pinched nerve in his neck.

"I sat down with David yesterday and I've been most pleased with his consistency," said Knights.

"... I think he and Jason Laycock are starting to form a good bond as two ruckmen.

"I don't think that bond was as close as it should have been in the past but they're really working hard and taking more ownership and responsibility around the stoppages."

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