Youth spurs Bombers' star McVeigh on - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Youth spurs Bombers' star McVeigh on

29/05/2009 06:33:41 PM Comments (0)

Essendon's burgeoning department of youth has breathed new life into key midfielder Mark McVeigh's career as he eyes a new era of glory for his AFL side.

McVeigh returns from a series of ankle injuries in time for the young Bombers' biggest test of the season - unbeaten Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Even without the 28-year-old - one of their on-field leaders and a pivotal cog in their midfield - the Bombers have won two of their past three matches to secure a surprise berth inside the top four.

But McVeigh believes Essendon's reinvigoration through youth has added much-needed selection pressure and the promise of glory for the club's elder statesmen who have battled through several lean seasons.

"It encourages you to work harder and prolong your career - I feel there's light at the end of the tunnel whether that's two, three or four years away," McVeigh said.

"It really encourages you to stay on the edge of your football and that's really important as an older player.

"It's great to come back and be part of a team which is building great success.

"To play the Cats, who are such a dominant force at the moment, everyone is upbeat about it and looking forward to the challenge."

Just how far the Bombers have come will become evident at Etihad Stadium against a Geelong side unbeaten in their opening nine matches.

For McVeigh, it is a chance to erase what has been a frustrating first half of the season plagued by injuries - most notably a second ankle issue soon after his return to the Bombers' line-up in round four.

McVeigh asked coach Matthew Knights if he could play a reserves game last weekend rather than be rushed back into the seniors - hoping to build his confidence as well as earn a spot in a side performing well in his absence.

"When I was injured in round four, I woke up on the Monday, and couldn't walk for a week. This time it's completely different," Mcveigh said.

"I've put together a series of training sessions, I'm moving freely, I'm feeling good, I feel a lot more confident and happy about where it's at.

"It's 100 per cent. In terms of pain, I have none at all."

Meanwhile, former Essendon star James Hird will get the chance to cast a critical eye over his former teammates and opponents under his new role as All-Australian selector.

Hird, who played 253 games for the Bombers and retired in 2007, replaced former Carlton player Rod Austin, who had stood down from the panel, according to the AFL.

The panel also comprises AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou, football operations general manager Adrian Anderson and former stars Kevin Bartlett, Gerard Healy, Glen Jakovich, Mark Ricciuto and Robert Walls.

Hird was a five-time All-Australian player, in 1994-96, 2003 and 2007

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