MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 14: James Kelly of the Bombers runs with the ball during the round 21 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Top-up Dons sign on for 2017

Top-up Essendon pair James Kelly and Matthew Dea have both re-signed with the club for 2017.

The pair were both signed as replacement players for the 2016 season following the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to ban the 34 current and former Essendon players.

Kelly has signed a one-year deal, while Dea has signed on until the end of 2018.

The 32-year-old Kelly spent 15 seasons at Geelong, winning three premierships, before being delisted at the end of 2015.

He then joined the Bombers in 2016, playing 16 games and averaging a career high 25 disposals, 6.4 marks and a disposal efficiency of 80.2 per cent.

“It’s been a real privilege for me to be part of this footy Club,” Kelly said.

“I have really enjoyed my football under Woosha and was always hopeful for the chance to go around again next season.

“I am really looking forward to watching the development of the younger players on our list as we strive for future success.”

Coach John Worsfold praised Kelly’s impact on the younger players.

“He is a really accomplished player — he’s done everything you need to do as far as AFL football goes but still has the desire to play,” Worsfold said.

“His role as somewhat of an ‘on field coach’ has only been strengthened by his overwhelming ability to lead by example in terms of sharing his knowledge and experience.”

Meanwhile, Worsfold said Dea thoroughly deserve a new contract after an impressive 2016 season, after he was delisted by the Tigers at the end of last year.

“Throughout this season, Matt was one of the mainstays of our defence each week,” Worsfold said.

“At only 24-years of age, he has proved himself as a tough, courageous and vocal member of our backline.

“Matt constantly puts his body on the line earning him the respect of his coaches, his teammates and fans alike so we’re really looking forward to what he will bring to the team in 2017.”