Coach John Worsfold considers Essendon top-ups for redrafting

Positive outlook: John Worsfold is pleased younger players have stepped up to the mark. Photo: Scott Barbour Likely lads: top-up Bombers James Kelly (left) and Matt Dea. Photo: Quinn Rooney

Essendon coach John Worsfold says the club will look at redrafting two of their top-up players at the end of the year.

Worsfold said Matt Dea and James Kelly would be considered for a spot on next year’s list, having performed strongly for the team all year.

While former Geelong star Kelly has indicated he may return to retirement, the 24-year-old Dea is keen to play on.

The 10 top-up players signed by the Bombers at the start of the year will finish up at the club after next week’s final home and away game against Carlton.

The impending departure of Michael Hibberd may create an opportunity for Dea, who has played 20 games after being delisted by Richmond at the end of last year, to keep his spot.

But Essendon must draft any of the top-ups it wishes to keep, rather than simply re-sign them.

“Matty Dea’s in a prime age bracket,” said Worsfold, after Essendon’s 40-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

“There may be other clubs who have seen how well he’s performed for us this year and may be looking at him.

“We’ll certainly look at that as an option, without guaranteeing anything, and Kelly’s a bit the same.

“We’ve just got to wait and see what options we’ve got, in terms of number of picks in the draft, and see where it all sits.

“We’ll work through all that after next week.”

Worsfold praised another top-up – Mathew Stokes – who played his 200th and final game against the Bulldogs – for his willingness to teach his younger teammates.

“We can’t talk highly enough of what be brought to our footy club this year, and the fact that today was his 200th game, we’re rapt we were able to help him get to that milestone,” Worsfold said.

“He’s forever a part of the Essendon Football Club history now, and a well respected part of it.

While Nathan Grima, Ryan Crowley, Jonathan Simpkin and others have had significant injury setbacks in their time at the club, Worsfold said all 10 top-ups had made a positive contribution.

But he said it was an encouraging thing for the team and he development of their young players that they had not needed to rely on all of them playing each week.

“They’ve all been outstanding. It hasn’t gone perfectly for a lot of them,” he said.

“They’ve all had fairly significant injuries by trying to get themselves up ready to assist the club.

“But the way they’ve fought through that and continued to add value has been outstanding.

“I suppose it’s a credit to the younger group that are on our list that we haven’t needed to play all of them every week.

“That was the way it was looking at the start of the year, but the way the younger players have stepped up to the mark and been competitive … we’ve been really pleased.”

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