During 2016 a number of youngsters proved themselves as capable players and with an extra year experience should be ready to push for a birth in Essendon’s best 22, even with the club’s 10 returning players.
Worsfold says that the players returning from suspension will not be gifted games based on reputation, but will have to earn selection following pre-season.
“I don’t think there’s anything significant to be drawn in all of them playing [in round one] and I think they would be disappointed if they felt they were playing just for a token statement,” Worsfold said.
“Those players, I know, want Essendon to be a great footy club and to win a lot of games. All those guys plus the rest of the squad should be expecting we’ll be picking the best team to represent Essendon on that day.
“I certainly have a sense of what they’ve earned – and that’s respect. We know what they can deliver consistently over a long period of time, and that is something you use when you’re picking a team.
“The knowledge of how they perform in big games, on different grounds, in front of big crowds, travelling, we already have a knowledge of what those guys can do.”
Essendon’s pre-season campaign begins on February 16 against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.