Darcy Parish (concussion) and Aaron Francis (neck) are expected to be available for the clash with Fremantle in Perth.
The Bombers are hopeful but not yet confident that Adam Saad (hamstring) will also be available while star big men Tom Bellchambers (calf) and Michael Hurley (shoulder) are still several weeks from a return.
Heppell led yesterday’s meeting with his leadership group, before a broader meeting with the entire playing group, but that is the normal routine at Tullamarine. Regardless there was a more intense feeling to yesterday’s events, given the size and manner of the loss.
Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd on radio last night doubled down on his stinging rebuke of the club from the weekend when he had described it as one of the worst performances in the club’s history. Last night he described the events as a ‘‘trainwreck’’.
‘‘They need to get back to the basics of what makes a good team. It’s mental. They’re a mental basket case. I reckon it was a Band-Aid with those five wins,’’ Lloyd said on 3AW.
Essendon were obliterated against a hot Western Bulldogs outfit, with the Bombers conceding 21 consecutive goals after Dylan Shiel’s opener in the first 20 seconds of the game.
The loss, and the criticism from such a significant club figure as Lloyd, intensifies pressure on Worsfold as the club struggles to hang on to a place in the eight. As has been commonly cited this year Essendon has not won a final in 15 years.
Worsfold is contracted for the 2020 season and said after the game he was adamant he was the right man to lead the team to its next premiership.
‘‘There’s no doubt, at times tonight, you think ‘this is a brutal game and it’s not that much fun’. But I’ve been there before and taken teams through that and learnt from it and become great teams.
“[I’m] more than comfortable that I’ve done it before, I know how to do it and we’ll do it again.
“You’ve got to stick through tough games and you’ve got to stick through tough periods where you regrow.
“You don’t know when it’s going to happen, but you don’t stay in this game because you know when it’s going to happen – it wouldn’t be any fun.”
Despite the result, the Bombers still find themselves seventh on the ladder, a game clear of Port Adelaide, Adelaide and the Bulldogs.
Saturday night’s drubbing did, however, have a major impact on their percentage, which is now down to 93.8 per cent – the worst percentage of any team in the top 14 spots on the ladder.
Heppell was blunt after his assessment of Saturday’s loss. “We’ve got to own that performance. It was a very, very disappointing night overall and we really didn’t come to play,” he said after the defeat. “I’m feeling for our fans, I think we owe them one off that performance.”
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.
Michael Gleeson is an award-winning senior sports writer specialising in AFL and athletics.