Essendon senior coach John Worsfold says he’s open-minded to Conor McKenna’s playing position in 2020, with the speedster in line to make his return against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
McKenna has put his hand up for selection after an interrupted preparation returning from Ireland, joining Orazio Fantasia, Brayden Ham and Patrick Ambrose on an extended bench for the round three match.
While he’s yet to feature in the senior line-up this year, McKenna has been preparing for a switch to the forward line and striking a balance between defence and attack.
Worsfold said the 24-year-old had plenty of weapons at both ends of the ground, giving the Bombers added versatility.
“Conor’s been a wonderful half-back for us. He’s been learning his craft down there for a number of years. When we’ve trained and used him forward, he tends to find the ball and make things happen, so it’s exciting to have someone who can do that,” Worsfold said.
“At the moment, I still see him in our best back-line when he’s fit and ready to go, but we’re happy to start to look at him playing forward at times.
“Orazio Fantasia and David Zaharakis can go to half-back at periods and we can put Conor forward to have a different look if we want to change the mix of how the game looks.”
The Bombers enter Sunday’s clash aiming for a 3-0 start to a season for the first time since 2013.
Worsfold said he’d back in his charges to get the job done against the Demons’ powerful midfield, expecting improvement as his side familiarises itself with a new game-plan.
“They (Demons) have got some real power through their midfield and they all seem to be playing really good footy, but we were pleased with the way we matched up with Sydney’s midfield and we look forward to the challenge against Melbourne,” he said.
“We want to keep building on the way we want to play our game. It’s relatively new for a lot of us and we believe that week by week we’ll see more glimpses of the really good stuff we’re trying to bring.”
While Essendon and Melbourne lock horns at the MCG, both sides’ unselected players will benefit from a scratch match played behind closed doors at the NEC Hangar.
The Bombers will field up to 15 players in shortened quarters, giving them the chance to push for senior selection and gain valuable match conditioning where they otherwise wouldn’t.
“Leigh Tudor will be in charge of our group along with Cam Roberts, just mapping out where we want our players playing, how much time we want to give them on the ground and in different roles,” Worsfold said.
“It’s all coming along really well, and it’s going to be a great opportunity for those players who didn’t play last week to get a good hitout.”
The Bombers will release their final team for round three at 5pm AEST on Friday.