Essendon fans could see three new players unearthed in Round 1.
Bombers football boss Josh Mahoney has declared that young trio Nikolas Cox, Archie Perkins and Harry Jones are all "legitimate chances" to debut in their season opener after impressing in their first hit-out against Carlton on Thursday.
The Bombers ultimately went down to the Blues by 21 points, but had some real positives from the game, particularly the games of Cox, Perkins and Jones.
The club face Geelong in their sole AAMI Community Series clash on March before opening the season proper against Hawthorn On March 20.
Speaking on Sportsday, Mahoney said the young trio have adapted quickly to AFL life despite missing 12 months of football.
“I think all three would be legitimate chances (to play Round 1),” Mahoney said.
“What’s even more impressive from those three and our other first-year players is they missed a whole 12 months of footy last year.
“To come in and off the back of six or seven weeks of training – their first game today (Thursday) was their first game for over 12 months – they’ve adapted very quickly and the exciting thing for Bombers fans is these guys are improving every week.
“Every week at training they’re doing new things.”
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Mahoney added that Jones could pair with new recruit Peter Wright up forward come round one, who also impressed and has a real opportunity to produce big things up forward for the Bombers in 2021.
“He’s at that age (24), he’s had 60 games under his belt, didn’t play an AFL game last year … he wants to take a bit of responsibility," Mahoney said.
“He’s got that opportunity in our forward line. We need to find a partner for him and that’s potentially where Harry Jones could play.
“All we’re asking from Peter is to give us a contest, use his big body, and we know when he does get the ball in his hands, he’s very accurate.
“He had a good hit out today, he played second ruck and kicked two goals. If he can do that each week, we’ll be pretty pleased.”