Young Bombers to face Hawks stars - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Young Bombers to face Hawks stars

By Roger Vaughan 04/05/2009 07:49:41 PM Comments (0)

Less than a fortnight ago, Essendon had Patrick Ryder and Dustin Fletcher pencilled in for the AFL's toughest defensive assignment.

Now developing teenagers Michael Hurley and Darcy Daniher are prime candidates to play on formidable Hawthorn duo Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

David Hille's season-ending knee injury on Anzac Day has forced Ryder to become the No.1 Essendon ruckman, while Fletcher is out for up to a month with a hairline leg fracture.

Fletcher's diagnosis on Monday was better than expected, the Bombers fearing he would be sidelined for two months, but his absence will still expose their defence for the immediate future.

"It lays out a great challenge - the positives we felt (that) came out of the weekend, Cale Hooker had a promising game ... Tayte Pears we think is coming along really well," said Essendon football manager Paul Hamilton of the Saturday night loss to Brisbane.

"This week we expect Daniher back, Hurley will be available.

"Yes, they are young, but we think they're good quality defenders - whoever ends up getting the job on two magnificent players, it will be tough.

"But it will also be important that the guys up the field create the pressure, so they're not getting the ball lace-out."

Hamilton said Essendon might promote Tom Bellchambers to ease Ryder's ruck burden.

They could also move Scott Lucas into defence as his struggle to regain form continues.

Lucas is in a bad rut as he tries to overcome a limited pre-season.

He injured his knee in round one last year and it continued to hamper him over the summer.

"Scott is battling, everyone understands that, we thought he was a little bit better than he had been the previous week," Hamilton said.

"But he's not (at) the standard he likes to be at and he's pretty clear on that, he'd like to be playing a lot better.

"It's probably the worst patch he's had in a long time.

"We knew coming into this season it was going to be a battle early on with him, just because he hadn't done enough of the pre-season."

The Bombers could regain Mark McVeigh, while Geelong recruit Brent Prismall is ahead of schedule as he returns from his knee reconstruction.

Prismall is a chance to play for Bendigo this week in the VFL and could be in the seniors by mid-season, after suffering the injury in last year's AFL finals.

Meanwhile, the league will probably fine Essendon for the weekend's embarrassing team list blunder.

The Bombers had McVeigh, not Ricky Dyson, on the team sheet they handed to Brisbane before the game and this apparently caused Michael Voss to reorganise his matchups.

Essendon fixed the problem once the Lions pointed out the error and the team ran out as named.

But it prompted a "please explain" letter from the league.

Hamilton said there was no danger of Dyson not being able to play.

"You can make a change right up to before the game, as long as the opposition is notified," Hamilton said.

"Obviously the people involved have been counselled about getting it right."

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