Joe Daniher is lucky to be included in the Essendon team to face West Coast, says Bombers coach Mark Thompson. Photo: Pat ScalaKey forward Joe Daniher let his teammates down last week, and was lucky to be included in the Essendon team to face West Coast at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, says Bombers coach Mark Thompson.
Daniher was a somewhat surprising inclusion against Richmond last week after missing his side’s previous two games with a clavicle injury.
Having declared himself fit to play, Daniher was held goalless and had just eight disposals as the Tigers edged past the Bombers, a performance which left Thompson disappointed.
The coach said that if given his time again, he would not have selected 20-year-old Daniher. Thompson went as far as to suggest that Daniher only escaped the axe this week because of the back injury which has sidelined fellow tall forward Jake Carlisle.
“It’s all about team. if you make decisions based on yourself and not the team, then it’s not looked upon too well and it becomes a disease,” Thompson said.
“He’s only young and he’ll learn. He’s very apologetic so it might be a good thing he’s stayed in the team so he can redeem himself.”
Carlisle received a knock in training – exacerbating a back spasm – and is unavailable to face the Eagles.
“He can’t stand up straight so there’s no chance he could play,” Thompson said.
The coach flagged, however, that Carlisle should be ready to return for Essendon’s next game against Gold Coast.
Captain Jobe Watson will be back for the Bombers on Saturday after more than two months on the sidelines with a hip tendon injury. While Thompson ruled out the prospect of the 2012 Brownlow medallist starting as the sub, there is a chance Watson may not be able to play his full allotment of minutes.
“We’re hoping that he can play (normal) game time, but who knows. He’s been training intensely, but nothing can sort of simulate match play with opposition at Etihad Stadium after eight weeks out.”
Another inclusion is defender Ariel Steinberg, who has been named to make his debut after nearly four years on the club’s list – a period during which he was delisted only to be redrafted as a rookie.
Thompson said he was pleased that Steinberg had finally been afforded an opportunity, suggesting that the 21-year-old was spurred on by the disappointment of being culled.
“He was really hurt by that. We didn’t realise how much footy meant to him until a little time ago. He’s been our best player in the VFL and deserves his chance.”
Steinberg’s chance to play comes on the back of 393-game veteran Dustin Fletcher being ruled out for the remainder of 2014 after having finger surgery. Thompson maintained that the ball was in Fletcher’s court when it comes to making a call aboutnext year.
“That’s a question for him to answer, not me.”
“I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
The coach added that while it would be terrific if Fletcher could become just the third player to reach the 400-game milestone, it could not be a key consideration.
“You’d hate to think he would make a decision based on himself.”
Meanwhile, Thompson’s own future at the club remains up in the air, with chairman Paul Little telling Channel Nine’s The Footy Show that he was hopeful the dual premiership coach would remain in some capacity when James Hird returns from suspension.
Thompson remained coy about what he would be doing in 2015, saying only that ” it’s nice to be wanted.”
The Eagles are now pressing for a finals spot on the back of consecutive victories, with Thompson agreeing with the notion that their key forwards posed an immense threat.
“If the ball’s down there I’d be very worried, but us at our best over a four-quarter period … I’d like to think that they would not have a lot of ball down there, and the ball that they do get would be under pressure.”
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