The loss of key midfield trio Jobe Watson, Heath Hocking and David Zaharakis in recent weeks would be enough to concern any Essendon supporter but some pleasure has to be taken from the way those next in line have covered the loss.
Jake Melksham has been the prime example of the improvement and development for some of the on-ballers at the Bombers this season, in particular with Melksham over the last six weeks.
His turn around in form has been remarkable over the last six rounds with the 21-year-old averaging 21 disposals a game compared to his career average of 16.
Melksham has played an important in and under role over the last six weeks proven by his improvement of 8.5 contested possessions a game, up from his career average of 6.
Last weekend against Greater Western Sydney Melksham’s ability to win the contested football shone with a career high 14 contested possession in his total of 23.
The young midfielder also managed career high 9 clearances against the Giants last round.
Melksham’s impact has also been noticed on the scoreboard with a three-goal performance against Carlton, including the match winning goal, turning his season.
He has also kicked multiples against GWS and the Western Bulldogs in the last two weeks.
Coach James Hird recently said Melksham was beginning to see the results of all the hard work he puts in at training.
“It is a sign of a really good player that wants to learn, take instruction and wants to get better week after week,” he said.
“He is developing into a really good player and is getting the reward for all the hard work he is putting in.”