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Hardened recruits suit Dons

Simon Conway  January 21, 2016 12:36 PM

Crowley trained with his new teammates on Wednesday.

Crowley trained with his new teammates on Wednesday.

Essendon is targeting experienced players in a bid to help its younger group through the 2016 season.

The Bombers are permitted to sign up to ten new recruits to help cover the absence of the players affected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling last week.

Former Docker Ryan Crowley has begun training with his new teammates, while negotiations with other experienced AFL players are underway.

“The question we’ve had to ask ourselves is ‘how do we put a competitive team on the ground and beyond that, how do we provide leadership experience and support for our young group?’,” General Manager of Football Operations Rob Kerr told Sportsday.

“We’ve got 17 of our 33 players that are 21 or under, so we’ve got quite a young group. 

“One of the things you’ve got to be really careful of when you have got a young group is you don’t ask too much of some of those young players and burn them early in their careers.

“There are lots of demands in the game and those demands are more easily met when you’ve got some experienced campaigners around you and you can provide support not only off the field but support on the ground.”

Essendon is expected to announce the bulk of its new recruits soon, but the key position players may require some more extensive analysis.

“We quickly identified that we needed some players who we felt could go into the midfield and hold their own,” Kerr said.

“We’ll probably move pretty quickly to sign seven and there will be a strong midfield focus.

“Then with those remaining three spots we’ll do a fair bit of scouring because what we’re finding is the hard positions to fill are the key position roles.

“Talls who can hold down a key position, either forward or back, are really valuable commodities and anyone who looks like they’ve got potential in that area is typically on an AFL list.

“We’re going to go back to the state leagues and see ‘has someone been missed?’”

The Bombers have until March 15 to finalise their new signings.