MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 20: Joe Daniher and Jake Long of the Bombers have a laugh during an Essendon Bombers AFL Christmas Open training Session at True Value Solar Centre on December 20, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

With the banned players to return to Essendon’s line-up in 2017, many fans are wondering how they’ll return to the level of AFL football without playing a match over the past 12 months.

Getting their bodies right before the season begins is a very important job for High Performance Manager Justin Crow, but his task is being made more difficult by the fact that most of the players in the Essendon side have differing fitness levels.

“The returning players are doing a great job – we’ve really got to the point where we’ve got 45 individual players because each of those returning guys did different amounts of work last year, they’ve all got different histories and they all respond to different types of training,” Crow said.

“To this point – with the exception of (Tom) Bellchambers – we’ve got them through the majority of the pre-season, which is really promising for the year ahead.”

The Bombers are stepping up their workload ahead of their opening JLT Community Series match against Collingwood on February 16, as match simulation will be the flavour of the month until they face the Pies.

Only Tom Bellchambers is suffering from injury as it stands, meaning the Bombers should enter their pre-season matches with almost a full list to choose from.

“The pre-season has been very good, certainly in the sense we’ve got the majority of our playing group through the majority of our pre-season,” Crow said.

“We’re really pleased, given how many of the group are either young new players or returning players, how many of them are getting through most of our training load.

“We’ll keep doing more and more match play in training, and match play drills, we’ll continue working on our high-volume work and continue to work on peak intensity training, which is basically getting up to the highest intensities that we see on match days.”