Brendon Goddard and Tom Bellchambers will not line up for Essendon in Friday's Anzac Day clash with Collingwood, as the Bombers look to bounce back from last week's "ordinary effort" against St Kilda.
The club had hoped Goddard (adductor) and Bellchambers (ankle) would be fit to return against the Magpies, but captain Jobe Watson confirmed the pair would miss the game after they trained with the VFL squad on Thursday.
Goddard "didn't come up" from the injury suffered in round four against Fremantle, while Bellchambers will spend another week in the VFL after returning to action last round from pre-season ankle surgery.
"Tom's just not quite ready," Watson said.
"He's done a lot of work getting himself back, and played really well for a half, but I think they're willing to give him another week in the VFL."
Forward Patrick Ambrose, who hasn't played since his three-goal effort against Hawthorn in round two, trained with Essendon's squad and is in contention for a return this week from a quad strain.
As is Courtenay Dempsey, who Watson said had been impressive after rejoining the senior training group after a club imposed ban.
"He had to discover what footy was in his life, and who he was as a person and what he wanted to get out of it. Everyone has to be kept to the same standard," he said.
"He's returned this week, his attitude's been fantastic, he's over his injury, so he's available for selection."
The Bombers have been in the spotlight since their surprise defeat to the Saints last week, when they produced a lacklustre performance following a trip to Perth.
The players have had another six-day break heading into the Collingwood clash, but Watson expects a more energetic showing.
"You always hope that inconsistency is something that, [when] you're starting mature, it passes you by. But to St Kilda's credit they played better than we did. The challenge for us is to play to the standard that we saw in the first few rounds of the season," he said.
"The players are certainly ready for the game. They're ready to perform and what an occasion to do so."
Jake Carlisle’s form has been the subject of much debate after a poor game against the Saints, but his teammates are urging him to focus on the basics.
"He's got an enormous amount of talent, and he probably feels the weight of expectation a bit and feels that he has to go above and beyond," Watson said.
"But certainly the message from the playing group is that he only needs to play a role, play his team role, and that's all we expect from him."