AFL Rd 22 - Melbourne v Sydney
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: Kyle Dunkley of the Demons handpasses the ball under pressure during the round 22 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Sydney Swans at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 16, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Essendon's VFL side has signed former Demon Kyle Dunkley and ex-Power midfielder Joe Atley for the 2021 season.

The Bombers confirmed in a statement on Tuesday morning that the duo would don the sash for the upcoming season in the VFL's revamped East Coast Second-Tier Competition.

Essendon's AFL team missed out on luring Bulldogs star Josh Dunkley, the older brother of Kyle, last trade period despite his request to join the Bombers.

Could the signing of Kyle to their seconds be a form of bargaining tool to try and acquire Josh again at the end of the season?

Kyle, 20, played five games over two seasons at Melbourne after joining them via the inaugural mid-season rookie draft in 2019.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Kyle Dunkley of the Demons and brother Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs embrace after the 2019 AFL round 17 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Melbourne Demons at Marvel Stadium on July 14, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Atley played four games for Port Adelaide from 2017-2019 after getting drafted to the club with Pick 32 in the 2016 AFL draft.

The 22-year old is the younger brother of North Melbourne defender Shaun.

Essendon's new VFL senior coach Leigh Tudor said the pair's mature bodies and grunt work would be valuable in 2021.

"They’re both good inside players. They're strong at the ball, strong at the man, and have some experience and bigger bodies, which is exactly what we need to help our younger guys," Tudor told

"They’ll be great for our program and we expect them to lead us in the VFL this year.

"We’re going to be a young (AFL) side, so we’re trying to put together a strong VFL list to complement those guys."