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Veteran trio get say on their future

By Adam Cooper 04/08/2009 03:00:44 PM Comments (0)

Essendon veterans Matthew Lloyd, Dustin Fletcher and Scott Lucas will be given the final say on whether they play on in the AFL in 2010.

The decorated trio, who boast 846 games and 1,462 goals between them, will sit down with coach Matthew Knights to discuss their futures at the end of this season.

But Lloyd (bruised heel) will not feature in calculations much this week, as Knights all but ruled him out playing the sixth-placed Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Saturday night.

The skipper was still limping at Tuesday's recovery session despite missing the loss to West Coast last Sunday, and Knights admitted it would be risky playing him in a game the Dons (ninth) must win to get back in the eight.

"It's always tempting to play a champion like Matthew, but the modern game really finds people out who aren't fully fit," he said.

The future beyond 2009 for fullback Fletcher, 34, and the two forwards, both 31, looks assured if they want to keep playing even though his focus is on building the Bombers' next premiership side.

"They're all pretty professional and mature guys and we'll leave it to them and then work out which way they're going," he said.

"Most importantly those guys will have a big say - or virtually all the say - on what they want to do because I think they deserve that right as being champions of the Essendon footy club.

"They're going to play a big part in making that decision depending on how they're feeling, how their bodies are going, whether they think can make an impact with this team and where the group's headed."

Fletcher has enjoyed another good season in defence, Lloyd (35 goals) has been solid and Lucas (22 goals) has had a much better second half of the season after being dropped early in the campaign.

Knights said there was still a place for experience, but Essendon's focus is primarily on the younger brigade with midfielder Mark McVeigh and injured ruckman David Hille the next oldest at the club, both at 28.

McVeigh (corked thigh) and small forward Alwyn Davey (knee strain) are good chances to return to improve a side that has lost its past three games.

Knights denied the Dons had run out of steam, but had not shown the frenetic attack on the ball they had earlier in the season.

"That's one area we would be looking to improve this week, to get on our skates a little bit more," he said.

Knights also predicted a different focus from the Lions, whose attack was blanketed last Saturday night once Collingwood got defenders to crowd the space around Brisbane star Jonathan Brown.

"Brisbane will talk about that this week and probably come up with alternate plans to enter their forward half in a different way," he said.

"That's where footy does change from week to week, it keeps evolving, teams don't go with the same plan for three weeks in a row if it doesn't work."

Midfielder Jason Winderlich (back tightness) is also expected to miss the match.

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