Essendon are confident they'll be in the clear of a recent illness bug that has plagued staff members at the club in the past week come Sunday's bout with the Gold Coast Suns.

The Bombers were able to adapt and enact the necessary protocols to avoid the further spread of the virus, altering the size of team meetings and training in their build-up to Round 12.

Young pair Harrison Jones and Nik Cox were recently hindered by illness. The latter was a late out for the club's game against North Melbourne less than a fortnight ago.

Coach Brad Scott said on Thursday that he's been "really impressed" by the club's ability to shift its structure to accommodate absences and avoid potential cross-contamination. The Bombers boss is confident the recent bug won't influence his side's selection and fitness against the Suns this weekend.

"We've had some staff who have been ill, but no players to this point," Scott told media.

"If there's a silver lining out of the COVID era and hubs and protocols, we certainly enacted our protocols very quickly to minimise the risk.

"All our players are fine but we've got a skeleton staff because we kept our staff away. Enacting the protocols was pretty quick. Touch wood we've avoided catastrophe.

"We've had smaller group training and had a bit of a different week in terms of meetings and how we structured that, but it's been impressive to watch our players adapt to different circumstances.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 04: Jordan Ridley of the Bombers kicks the ball under pressure from Peter Wright of the Bombers during an Essendon Bombers AFL training session at The Hangar on August 04, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

"It's also a sign our players want to do more, not less. I've been really impressed."

The Bombers haven't finalised selection, pending the conclusion of their main training session, but will make at least one change as Jones returns from his one-game suspension for rough conduct.

His return could see Dreamtime debutant Nate Caddy fall out of the side despite an impressive first game in the red sash, with Scott and his selection committee likely facing a dilemma this week when it comes to naming 23 players to make the trip north.

Scott could only commend Caddy's ability to transition his skills to the higher level, but it looks unlikely the teenager will suit up against the Suns.

"We're not sure yet," Scott said of his forward selection decisions.

"I thought Caddy was impressive on debut. I said post-game that the simplest way I can put it is that he looked like an AFL player. He's probably looked a step above the VFL for the past few weeks and really slotted into AFL level really well.

"We'l work through [selection]. Once we get through our main session we'll make a decision on the final make-up of the team.

Embed from Getty Images

"If the match committee can continue to have problems in trying to squeeze players in, then that's a good problem to have."

Cox has been cleared to play following a hamstring scare in last Saturday's win over Richmond and remains in the selection frame, while midfielder Will Setterfield is in line to return via the VFL under the assumption he gets through's Thursday's session unscathed.

Defender Zach Reid is "not far off" from breaking back into the senior side as he builds towards a return, with the club continuing to monitor the young backman's workloads through a cautious lens.

Essendon's reserves will receive a boost this weekend with the expected arrival of Mid-Season Draft recruit Saad El-Hawli, who the Bombers recruited on Wednesday night out of the Northern Bullants.

The exciting outside runner will likely start his career in the VFL, but Scott isn't putting a roof on his prospects of playing in the AFL side this season.

Set to be deployed as a half-back or wing option at Tullamarine, Saad was integrated into training on Thursday and has begun to learn the Bombers' game style ahead of his first weekend in the red and black.

"We've been tracking Saad for a long time, right back to his Western Jets days," Scott said of the 23-year-old.

"He's a terrific young man and I look forward to getting to know him even better. It's a great testament to his perseverance.

"It is an interesting concept, having a player come onto your AFL list mid-season, so it feels like a bit of a sprint to get all the knowledge and get him up to speed on our game plan.

"We don'y have any back-ups. We've got 43 listed players who are available for selection every week. That's the attitude I want our players to have. There's no-one sitting and waiting in the wings, they push their case for selection every week.

Saad El-Hawli of the Essendon Bombers at training in 2024 (image via Essendon FC)

"Saad has come in as a half-back/wing type who we want pushing for AFL selection as soon as possible. He's a fairly complete player, he's a good kick, good speed and power, and a good running capability.

"The challenge for him is to fit into a system that's foreign to him, but he's got al lthe raw materials."

Essendon face Gold Coast at People First Stadium on Sunday, while the club's reserves host Box Hill at Windy Hill earlier the same day.

Gold Coast WON BY 11 POINTS
People First Stadium