Jake Kelly during the AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide, Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media

Essendon coach Brad Scott has "liked the look of" defender Jake Kelly's switch further up the field, however the former Crows backman could potentially return to the defensive 50 this weekend to go toe-to-toe with GWS superstar Toby Greene.

Scott has revealed Kelly's move to the wing and at times to half-forward comes as the Bombers look to expand their defensive options, with tall utility Nik Cox and swingman Kaine Baldwin both returning to the senior side in recent weeks.

Their arrival has pushed Kelly to an unfamiliar role in the forward half of the field, with the 28-year-old struggling to have the same impact on the game over the past fortnight as Essendon continue to search for greater flexibility across the field.

Kelly could return to his more traditional role in taking on the opponent's best small forward, with no task tougher than the in-form Greene.

The GWS skipper has kicked over 50 goals this season for the first time in his career, emerging as a candidate to be named captain of the All-Australian side. The veteran Giant was moved into midfield for last week's encounter against Port Adelaide, a switch that has given Scott much to think about.

"It's probably part of just adding some flexibility to our team," Scott said of Kelly's positional move.

"We've been fairly consistent with our back six or seven across the year, and with the addition of Nik Cox coming back into the side, along with other players, it's given us the ability to move a few guys up the field.

"We've liked the look of Jake on the wing. But when you mention Toby Greene - there are some decisions to be made there.

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"There's a variety of options (to go with Greene). Laverde is a potential matchup there, Kelly has done it before. We've got quite a number of flexible defenders who can play back there.

"Toby played some really good footy last week, but most of that was in midfield. There are a multitude of plans for him."

Essendon could be in line to make as many as four changes to the side that narrowing defeated North Melbourne in Round 22, with ruckman Sam Draper (hip), forward Jake Stringer (foot) and midfield pairing Dylan Shiel (foot) and Jye Caldwell Caldwell (hip) all in the mix to return from injury.

Caldwell is expected to make his return after being managed, while Stringer, Shiel and Draper are all needing to prove their fitness at training this week.

Scott said Draper is likely to face GWS and attempt to tame opposing ruckman Kieren Briggs.

"Yeah that's the plan, he'll train today so it will all be determined on how he looks and how he feels," Scott said of his first-string ruckman.

"He's had a good long slow build up and we are really happy to have him back in main training. Assuming he gets through that well and he's looking like the Sam Draper we all love then he should play."

"He's just got to be able to function. The build-up has been slow and he's been pain free for a long time now, it's just a matter of being able to produce the power output that we know he can produce.

"We're expecting him to play, but the caveat is he's got to get through training."

Stringer and Shiel have joined Draper in recent weeks in being assessed on a week-to-week basis as they work through their respective recoveries, with Scott wanting to see his senior trio at full fitness before earning recalls.

Sam Draper and Matt Crouch during the AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide, Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media

With Essendon's season on the line this weekend, Scott said the club is unlikely to roll the dice at selection for the Giants clash despite "a lot riding on it".

"To me, rolling the dice is saying 'no, they're not right but we're going to hope they can somehow get through the game'," he said.

"We're not going to put ourselves in that position. There's always an element of risk when you're returning from injury. If they're not very close to 100% we're not playing them.

"These opportunities don't come around very often. We've been working really hard since October last year to improve.

"Everyone knows the equation. At the start of the year, if everyone said we'd be in contention to play finals at Round 23, people would've been pretty happy with that.

"It's a big game and we know there's a lot riding on it. We're really relishing the opportunity to play in a game like this."

Essendon will travel to GIANTS Stadium on Saturday at 4:35pm (AEST).

 2023-08-19T06:35:00Z 
GWS WON BY 126 POINTS
GIANTS Stadium
GWS   
162
FT
36
   ESS