Fletcher and Welsh back for Bombers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fletcher and Welsh back for Bombers

By John Salvado 16/06/2009 11:58:01 AM Comments (0)

Essendon will receive a welcome boost in experience for Friday night's clash against AFL cellar dwellers Melbourne, with defender Dustin Fletcher and midfielder Andrew Welsh to resume after long injury lay-offs.

Fletcher will come straight back into the senior line-up after recovering from a cracked fibula.

He sustained the injury in his 300th game against Brisbane in round six and has not played since.

Welsh, 26, has been eased back into action with two games for Essendon's VFL affiliates Bendigo after suffering a broken leg and a dislocated ankle in a pre-season match against Carlton.

"It's been seven weeks now for Dustin and he's had a good three or four weeks on the training track so he'll come into the side," Essendon coach Matthew Knights said on Tuesday.

"We're also looking to bring Andrew Welsh back in, which has been a marvellous comeback.

"Andrew had the horrific injury earlier in the year.

"We can all remember the nature of that injury, so to come back and fight back the way he has, and to do his rehab, has been sensational.

"He's a magnificent leader of our club."

The Bombers could make up to four changes for the clash against the Demons at Etihad Stadium, with Jason Winderlich (ankle) and Henry Slattery (hamstring) also in contention after missing the last-start loss to Adelaide.

With former Cat Brent Prismall and Kyle Reimers also to play their second games this year against Melbourne after extended stints on the sidelines, the Bombers line-up is now taking on a more experienced look.

"The senior players coming back into the line-up is a real bonus because you'd think that five or six senior bodies who are fresh would be able to help with our form line," said Knights.

"However they must come and play with the intensity and the form they've shown through their careers, otherwise it doesn't guarantee anything."

The Bombers sit outside the top eight with a 5-6 win-loss record and probably need to win seven of their remaining 11 matches to qualify for the finals.

They will start as short-priced favourites against Melbourne, who have only won one game all year and were trounced by 66 points by Collingwood in their last outing.

"I think Melbourne will be desperate to do very well after Queen's Birthday and we're expecting that they will come out and play really hard," said Knights.

"It's not going to be an easy game by any stretch on Friday night, we're going to have to come out and play pretty well.

"We're coming off a loss ourselves which was a disappointing one so we should have impetus to go into the game as well."

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