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Bombers prepare for fire-breathing Blues

By Robert Grant 05/08/2010 03:30:50 PM Comments (0)

Carlton are not the only AFL team anxious about coach Brett Ratten's tongue-lashing this week.

Ratten put his players on notice after their insipid 48-point loss to Collingwood last Saturday, accusing them of lacking commitment.

The seventh-placed Blues will be out to atone for their limp performance against Essendon on Friday night at the MCG and no one is more aware of the effect Ratten's comments will have than Bombers coach Matthew Knights.

Essendon have beaten Carlton the last six times the pair have met but Knights says all that means is it "fills the history books."

He said the side was wary of the Blues after their big loss to Collingwood, which prompted Ratten's scathing assessment.

"Carlton have had a big week, they're going to be fierce, I would imagine, for the whole four quarters," Knights said on Friday.

After a run of six straight losses, Essendon have responded with comeback wins over North Melbourne and highly-ranked St Kilda.

"I think the North Melbourne game was a little bit underestimated - how important that was for us," Knights said.

"The last two weeks have been excellent. The North Melbourne game gave us the real impetus to go into the St Kilda contest and preferably the St Kilda contest allows us to come with a really free mind and play spirited football tomorrow evening."

The Bombers, however, have setbacks with the likely season-ending loss of Scott Gumbleton and another injury to midfielder Andrew Welsh.

Welsh had recovered from a groin injury and was making his way back to the senior side via the VFL but took a big hit to the ribs during last week's game.

Knights indicated Welsh would have been under consideration for a senior recall, giving his previous impressive performances tagging Blues skipper Chris Judd.

"Andrew unfortunately last week came back into the VFL off a groin injury and he also copped a really heavy knock in the ribs and didn't complete the game," said Knights.

"Andrew will miss this week, VFL and AFL, and we're not sure how long that will keep him out."

However there was better news from the Bombers with captain Jobe Watson given the green light despite limping off at the end of the win over St Kilda.

Knights said that while he may have looked suspect, Watson was a player who undertook a heavy workload and was simply sore and exhausted.

"I've asked him about that, that shuffle he has late in the game, but he's a first-year captain, plays an enormous amount on the inside, a big contested ball man," Knights said.

"So you're going to get knocks and bruises ... but there's no strain, there's no tear, nothing like that."

Gumbleton will be out, probably for the rest of the year, after suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung in the second quarter against St Kilda but played out the game in what Knights said could be a career-defining experience.

"What we took out of last week was the courage that that young man showed with two broken ribs.

"It was absolutely awesome for him and the club and his confidence.

"He will take enormous belief into next pre-season and we'll probably see the real Scott Gumbleton from this moment forward," he said.

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