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McKenna a chance to take on Bulldogs

McKenna broke his finger during the Bombers’ 14-point win over North Melbourne last week and looked likely to join several star teammates on the injury list.

Essendon are already missing captain Dyson Heppell (ankle), Jake Stringer (ankle) and Pat Ambrose (foot) out of their best 22, while All-Australian forward Joe Daniher has suffered a further setback after straining his calf.

But Worsfold told reporters on Wednesday that McKenna was still a chance to take on the Dogs.

“The good news is he’s had the all-clear to play providing he feels like he’s able to play at the level he’d like to perform at,” Worsfold said.

Conor McKenna is a chance to play despite surgery on his hand.

Conor McKenna is a chance to play despite surgery on his hand.Credit:Getty Images

“We won’t know that until it settles after this operation. So we’ll give him as long as he needs but he’s a tough nut and that’s why we haven’t ruled him out, we’ll wait and see what happens.

“He obviously played out the game with a pretty sore hand and only brought it up post-game. He’s had surgery on it so the hand is now in better shape than during the game.”

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Despite their hefty injury list, Essendon have only lost to Carlton in 2020 and a win against the Bulldogs would solidify a top-four position with a game in hand.

Worsfold said he’s particularly happy with his team, given they’re winning games while still learning a different game plan under him and senior coach-in-waiting Ben Rutten.

If McKenna doesn’t play, there will be two significant outs for Essendon after star midfielder Dylan Shiel failed to reduce his two-match ban at the tribunal for his bump on North Melbourne’s Curtis Taylor.

Worsfold was clearly disappointed with the outcome.

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“When it’s your player you’re going to want a different grading and that’s there’s no intention and everything is accidental,” he said.

“We saw a lot in it that we felt we had a good enough argument to go to the tribunal.

“The grading system that the MRO uses, the tribunal leaned pretty heavily on that as well.

“It seems as though it was a pretty close call, unfortunately it didn’t go the way we would’ve liked it.”

Worsfold is still hopeful of seeing Daniher play at some stage this season, despite straining his calf at training recently.

The club said the forward would stop running for 10-14 days.

“It just means he needs to get that calf right before he needs to start to build up his volumes again.

“These setbacks will happen along the way.”

correction

This report initially said Essendon would play the Bulldogs on Saturday. The match will take place on Friday night.

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