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Hurley close to return for Bombers

Captain Dyson Heppell, out-of-form speedster Orazio Fantasia and enigmatic forward Jake Stringer all trained lightly but are expected to be named to travel to Perth.

Players trained shortly after Worsfold batted away questions about his future, reiterating his commitment to the club and pointing to the fact that his side was seventh on the ladder.

With a trip to Fremantle this weekend followed by a round-23 clash with arch-rivals Collingwood, one win out of two should be enough to secure Worsfold’s side a place in September action.

Essendon coach John Worsfold fronts the media on Wednesday.

Essendon coach John Worsfold fronts the media on Wednesday.Credit:AAP

But if they lose both – making it four losses in a row to end the season – or if other results go against them, the Bombers are set to be bundled out of the top eight.

A calm but stern Worsfold maintained on Wednesday morning that he paid very little attention to the mounting speculation on his future.

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“Not really, other than understanding that I can’t control the speculation,” he said before training.

“So what’s the reality … that’s more the question. The speculation is fine. If people aren’t talking about teams going through a rough trot, then what are they going to talk about?

“The reality is that I’m contracted for next year, I’m absolutely committed to this footy club and I’m enjoying the challenge of getting this group where we want to go to.”

Worsfold was then asked, aside from whether the club wanted to retain him, if he still wanted to coach next year.

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“I just answered that,” he said.

The coach was also questioned over his demeanour on the bench during Essendon’s thrashing at the hands of the Bulldogs last Saturday.

Worsfold has never been a particularly animated figure in 16 years as a senior coach, but club great Tim Watson and Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes questioned  the lack of visible response as their team conceded 21 straight goals.

“People can target me on that but that’s pretty shallow,” Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday.

“Has anyone looked back at the whole 110 minutes of what I’m doing? I was in constant communication with the coaches’ box, constantly supporting the players, challenging them and talking through it.

“There were parts of the game – I can’t talk non-stop – where I sat quietly and they’ve been highlighted. It’s a cheap shot, but that’s fine.”

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