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Double debut

Conor Walsh  May 16, 2018 4:00 PM

BTV: Dons' double debut Essendon youngsters Dylan Clarke and Jordan Ridley will both make their debuts in Rd 9.

Essendon will unveil two new Bombers with Dylan Clarke and Jordan Ridley selected for their much-anticipated AFL debuts on Saturday.

The young pair had been knocking down the door for senior selection after impressive starts to their second season at the club.

John Worsfold confirmed the news to the squad at training on Wednesday, much to the excitement of the group.

Discussing the side, he told them there would be two “forced changes” to the side as he revealed the news to the enthusiastic playing group.

“The forced changes are the forced because of the form of Clarkey and Riddles, they’re coming into the team,” Worsfold said.

Ridley was selected by Essendon with pick 22 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, but Clarke was forced to wait to discover his fate. He was eventually picked with selection 63 in the draft, completing an impressive group of youngsters from the draft.

When the pair runs out onto the MCG against Geelong, all five of the club’s players from that draft will have donned the sash in the AFL following Andrew McGrath, Josh Begley and Kobe Mutch.

Clarke has been a starring midfielder in the VFL this season, leading the league for disposals (with 164 from five games) and hard-ball gets (33), while currently placing second for contested possessions (79) and third for tackles (43).

A sweeping, versatile defender, Ridley has also been outstanding in his second year showing his poise and class for the VFL Bombers and demanding selection after spending three consecutive rounds as a senior emergency.

Clarke said selection is a just reward for the persistence he and Ridley have shown in recent weeks.

“The messages from the coaches and the senior players (was) just, ‘keep putting your head down and regardless of the result in the ones just force them to choose you’,” Clarke said on Wednesday.

“So I think we both went our own way a bit in terms of just putting our heads down and getting the work done, so I think we should both be pretty proud of how we’ve been playing.

“To get rewarded on me and Rids’ form in the VFL is really positive, so we both feel pretty good at the moment and we’re hoping to have a good impact on Saturday.”

Ridley said it had been frustrating narrowly missing out on selection, but was thrilled he could finally get a chance to make his mark in the AFL.

“It’s been a little bit frustrating the last few weeks being an emergency a few times, but it’s finally good to break through,” Ridley said.

“It’s something we’ve all been aspiring to work towards, so especially to share it with such a great mate is an unreal feeling.”

He said he wasn’t nervous about his first senior game and will enter the match with confidence in his ability.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid and I feel like once you hit some good form in the VFL you feel confident you can translate it to the higher level, so I’m just more excited.”

The new Bombers will face the Cats at 4:35pm on Saturday in the third annual Country Game. You can buy tickets for the match HERE.