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Selection heartache looming at Eagles

“He trained fully last night, almost trained fully on Friday and has ticked a lot of boxes,” Simpson told SEN.

“We will see how he pulls up today. It is not as bad as what has been reported.”

If Hurn is given the green light, it means Oscar Allen will likely play as a permanent forward.

That scenario is almost certain to force spearhead Jake Waterman out of the side.

Defender Liam Duggan and speedy forward Jack Petruccelle are others who face a nervous wait to see if they can retain their spots.

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Veteran Will Schofield could come in for Duggan if Simpson opts for more experience.

Petruccelle went goalless from just seven disposals in the 38-point loss to Hawthorn and could be replaced by Jarrod Cameron.

Simpson said it’s always tough delivering bad news to a player during the finals.

“Every year you have a difficult conversation with players who find themselves out of the side,” Simpson said.

“Whether it’s coming back from injury too late, or their form drops off at the wrong time, or a more experienced player comes into the side – that’s all part of the gig.”

Schofield performed brilliantly after being recalled for last year’s finals series following Brad Sheppard’s hamstring injury.

But whether he’ll get the chance to perform in another September campaign remains to be seen.

“The balance is with the talls – how many talls can you bring into the side?” Simpson said.

“That’s always a challenge for ‘Schoey’.”

Essendon are expected to name Michael Hurley despite his recent shoulder injury, while skipper Dyson Heppell (foot), Cale Hooker (illness), Orazio Fantasia (hip) and Jake Stringer (hamstring) will all return.

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But defender Martin Gleeson is set to miss with a calf injury.

Simpson is excited about Naitanui’s return.

“We’ve missed him. We’ve found a way without him but he does make us a better side,” Simpson said.

“He’s our [Patrick] Dangerfield, he’s our [Nat] Fyfe, he’s our game changer and he does it differently than anyone else.”

AAP

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