ESSENDON star Darcy Parish is touch and go to return from a corked calf against West Coast but the Bombers are confident their midfield can thrive regardless.
Parish missed the Dons’ win over St Kilda and will have to prove his fitness for Friday’s game in Perth.
Senior coach Ben Rutten said his availability would depend on how he pulled up from Wednesday’s training.
In Parish’s absence, young guns Jye Caldwell, Archie Perkins and Ben Hobbs thrived with more centre-bounce time against St Kilda.
Rutten hoped that in the longer term, those players, plus Jake Stringer’s return, would reduce any reliance on ball-magnet Parish.
“It’s a balance about making sure we get some cohesion out of our guys through there but also we’ve got some good options as well,” he said.
“So just balancing that up. I don’t think it’s too difficult. But when the opportunity’s there, Darcy was out and we had a guy come in and fill his role, that’s what we’re after.
“We don’t want to be too reliant on Darcy or any other individual.”
Other midfielders stepping up could also allow Parish to swing forward.
“They’re the sorts of things we discussed and trained a bit throughout our pre-season,” Rutten said.
“Throughout the course of this season so far, probably lacking a bit of our personnel and availability’s meant we haven’t been able to do that as much as we’d like.
“But hopefully as we start to get some troops back and some more availability, we’ll have the ability to do that a little bit more.”
The Bombers will be without half-back Andrew McGrath for at least two weeks after he re-injured his adductor against St Kilda.