Hawks to keep Bombers guessing - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks to keep Bombers guessing

By Melissa Woods and Adam Cooper 28/08/2009 05:53:56 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson will keep Essendon guessing on the make-up of his forward line for Saturday's must-win AFL match at the MCG following the suspension of Lance Franklin.

It appeared even Clarkson wasn't entirely set on who he would call on, although he said he was confident whoever played in attack could kick enough goals for the reigning premier to secure eighth place and a spot in the finals.

"We'll work that out between now and Saturday afternoon," Clarkson said on Friday.

"When you haven't got Franklin, (Jarryd) Roughead and Mark Williams, everything we do is going be a surprise for us all tomorrow," he said.

Clarkson said he couldn't recall another time in his five-year reign when he had to conjure a forward line without Franklin - who has twice booted nine goals against the Bombers - and Roughead (knee). Williams also has knee trouble.

"We started the season without a defence and now it looks like we might finish without a forward line," Clarkson said.

"Ask Essendon, I reckon they would prefer Lance not to be playing than playing but, having said that, we still reckon that with the 22 we put out there, we can still win tomorrow.

"We'll have six guys up there who will give it a good crack, we'll have a different sort structure but we reckon we can kick enough goals to win the game."

In contrast to Hawthorn's plight, Essendon are confident key trio Matthew Lloyd, Paddy Ryder and Jobe Watson will all play after getting through training on Friday.

Lloyd is ready to resume in the forward line after missing four games with a bruised heel, while Ryder can again pinch hit in the ruck after a knee injury kept him out of last Sunday's loss to Fremantle.

Watson has been hampered by ankle soreness, but football operations manager Paul Hamilton said the Bombers were confident the much-improved midfielder would play, along with Lloyd and Ryder.

Ryder admitted he had doubted he could return so quickly after he hurt the muscle behind his knee in the round-20 win over St Kilda.

He also revealed one of the motivating factors heading into the clash was to reward veterans Lloyd and Dustin Fletcher, who have played 39 finals between them but none since 2004.

"We haven't played finals for a while and Lloydy has been harping on it at training and we've got blokes there like `Lanky', (Fletcher) who's down at the last end of his career," Ryder said.

"So we just want to play finals and hopefully reward those guys and also reward ourselves with a win and playing a bit of finals."

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