Selection cut: Why Bombers ‘have to make some decisions’ to keep players ‘flexible’

Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis believes Essendon will “have to make some decisions” about some key players ready to return from injury amid the club’s impressive run of form and roster depth.

One of the biggest surprise packages of the AFL season, the Bombers moved into sixth on the ladder with an 8-5 record after a 34-point win over Carlton on Sunday night.

The club’s reigning champion, Peter Wright, returned from a dislocated shoulder in his first game to inspire his team to victory, tossing 5.0 from eight innings.

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While Wright returned to action at the weekend, several teammates were sidelined with injuries, including Dylan Shiel (ankle), Darcy Parish (calf), Will Setterfield (ankle) and Zach Reed (hamstring), while Jake Kelly and Nick Cox. recently returned by the VFL.

Highly-rated 2022 draftees Elijah Tsatas and Alvin Davey Jnr have also shown impressive form at VFL level to push for their respective cases in the AFL squad, with Tsatas particularly eye-catching at the weekend with 25 disposals and seven clearances.

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Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 On Monday night, Lewis said inside linebacker Ben Hobbs will step up in Shiel’s absence, while the likes of Sam Weidemann and Kyle Langford have helped fill the Wright hole in Wright’s absence.

Lewis said Bombers officials will soon find out how versatile the returning players will be before the inevitable selection pressure.

“Your best and fairest player is out and they have other star players they can count on. What they’ve realized is they’ve got great depth, they’ve got players who have been given opportunities,” Lewis said. AFL 360.

“I’m talking about Ben Hobbs. When Dylan Shiel was out, he was able to come in and not only play a role, but participate and contribute. Sam Weidemann and Kyle Langford were the leading players along with Peter Wright.

“So it does two things: the returner understands that he doesn’t have to be the man every time, and the wingers get a lot of confidence from playing without other players in the team.

“They’ve got some decisions to make, Essendon. When they get those players back – Shiel, Parish, Cox when fit, Reed when he has the chance – can they play in different positions? Because if they can’t, they may have to find another home.

Peter Wright scored for the Bombers. Image: AFL Photos via Dylan Burns/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“I know it sounds impressive and it might be a bit off-centre but this is a side that doesn’t want to depend on players playing in certain positions. They want to be flexible.”

Parish is under contract with Essendon until the end of the season, with the midfielder potentially available as a restricted free agent if he wants to leave the Bombers.

Lewis was one of 28 Fox Footy pundits in a pre-season poll predicting Essendon to make the finals this year, while 22 predicted Carlton to finish in September.

The Blues sit 15th on the ladder after losing eight of their last nine games, including six.

“Essendon are living the season that Carton thought they would have this year,” AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whatley told Fox Footy.

“They’re a good team… They’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting in the first part of the season and possession is nine-tenths of the law, so you’ve got to catch them now, the position in the top eight and see what damage they can do.

“I don’t know if it’s going to continue with Essendon. I think the environment does it, the opponent does it, the crowd does it – but they beat the fourth team.”

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