Never has the retirement of a player left a bigger gap in the structure of an AFL side than Matthew Lloyd retiring in 2009, leaving the Bombers without a proper key forward for the better part of the last decade.
Essendon defender Michael Hurley is nursing an AC joint injury after the Bombers’ AFL win over North Melbourne.
The Bombers have confirmed that Hurley needs surgery on his AC joint, after a collision with North Melbourne forward Cam Zurhaar in the third quarter of Saturday’s five-point win at Marvel Stadium.
“While it’s a disappointing outcome, we remain hopeful Michael could return to play before season’s end,” said Essendon football boss Dan Richardson.
It’s the third win in a row for the Bombers, all of them by ten points or less.
Port Adelaide’s loss to Brisbane also means Essendon return to the top eight.
Essendon have only been in the eight once this season, in Round 7.
They won on Saturday despite the ongoing absence of captain Dyson Heppell, while key forward Joe Daniher and reigning club best and fairest Dylan Smith are gone for the season.
The challenges keep coming for Essendon, with a major Friday night assignment at Adelaide Oval against the Crows. Adelaide and the Bombers have 9-7 record, with the Crows boasting a better percentage.
Asked what Saturday’s win meant for the bigger picture, coach John Worsfold said the focus remained on improvement rather than ladder position.
“Not having the captain out there, it’s showing we have a lot of faith in the guys who’ve come in and they understand their role and are playing their role,” Worsfold said.
“So we are improving in that, but we’ve still got some improvement to go – that’s our focus.
“What happened (on Saturday night) or last week really won’t influence how much better we get, as we go into training for our next opposition.”
Two players who have come into the side to great effect are the Clarkes – Zac and Dylan.
Ruckman Zac Clarke broke even with Todd Goldstein and that was a great result for the Bombers.
Dylan Clarke continued to impress in a run-with midfielder role, restricting Kangaroos star Ben Cunnington.