Veteran midfielder Ben Cunnington will return for the Kangaroos after hip, back and concussion problems have kept him out for much of the last 12 months.
“He hasn’t stopped smiling and even talked to a few people for a change,” Ziebell joked.
“It will be awesome to have him back.”
Aidan Corr is out with a foot infection while Aidan Bonar will miss with an adductor injury. Dom Tyson has been dropped.
Johannisen had been out of favour early in the season but has been named in the 22 for Friday’s match along with premiership captain Easton Wood who returns from injury. But Wallis – appointed vice-captain less than two months ago – and Patrick Lipinksi have been dropped.
Meanwhile Essendon confirmed on Thursday that Alec Waterman and Archie Perkins would make their respective AFL debuts against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
Sources indicated on Thursday that Matt Guelfi, Andrew Phillips and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher were also likely to return alongside confirmed starter Jake Stringer, while Ned Cahill and Martin Gleeson appear likely to be dropped. Dylan Shiel, Jye Caldwell and Sam Draper are all out through injury.
The Bulldogs want to show they are a serious premiership contender after making a 2-0 start with captain Marcus Bontempelli stating his side wants to bring itself up to the level of contenders such as Richmond and Port Adelaide.
“We have managed to make a better start than we have in the past and there is a steely resolve to go on with it and protect the momentum you start to create,” Bontempelli said.
He agreed his side had yet to show it could put its foot down and break away from sides as the Power and Tigers are doing.
“We haven’t shown that in the past, it’s one of the challenges you do face as a football club, to build that resilience and what-not into your game,” Bontempelli said.
“You have to stay task-focused, you can’t get carried away with the game and scoreline at different points.
“That is a work in progress for us. You have to continue to fight for every score you can and I know North will make us fight for it.”
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter