Will injured Bombers finally turn to Francis?
ESSENDON coach John Worsfold has stuck to his guns over the non-selection of Aaron Francis, saying the No. 6 draft pick was still "miles off" fulfilling his potential.
The Bombers fell two games outside the eight after an injury-marred 16-point loss to Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday.
Speedster Orazio Fantasia was a late withdrawal with a quad problem, while Patrick Ambrose (hamstring), Jake Stringer (calf) and David Myers (calf) were all injured during the game.
Francis looms as a likely replacement for defender Ambrose for Saturday's clash against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.
But Worsfold said the talented backman, who has not played a senior game so far this season after taking time out for a mental health issue, would only play if a specific spot opened up.
Worsfold said Brendon Goddard and Michael Hurley were two players, for example, who were keeping Francis out of a senior berth.
"He is playing good enough footy (in the VFL), but he is miles away from the player we know he is going to be," Worsfold said. "He is a developing tall player and that's going to continue to improve.
"So this is not drastic for him that he is having to wait for an opportunity and he is building his game while he waits for that opportunity."
With its next two matches against the Suns and Fremantle (Etihad Stadium), Essendon believes there is still plenty to gain from the remainder of the season.
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The club remains hopeful Joe Daniher will make a comeback in the last part of the season after making progress in the past fortnight from a groin injury.
Worsfold was proud of the Bombers' performance in the first three quarters on Sunday, but said injuries were a telling factor as Collingwood ran over the top through the midfield in the last term.
"Credit to (Scott) Pendlebury, he was outstanding, absolutely outstanding," Worsfold said. "But I thought our boys were on top in the first three quarters.
"They paid a price in terms of how hard they had to work."
Worsfold said the season could still be a significant step forward even without finals.
"We started this season with a little bit of a different squad in our first clear season together as group and we have been learning a lot," he said.
"We have made a lot of changes throughout the course of the year and the squad and roles and the way we play … I would say over the past six or seven weeks it's been a big tick.
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