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Fletcher set for Dreamtime 400th match

Fletch set for Dreamtime 400th, says Hird James Hird expects Dustin Fletcher to play his milestone match against Richmond
Unless he falls over in the shower, he'll play his 400th next week, which is huge for our footy club and huge for Fletch and his family
James Hird

DUSTIN Fletcher will bring up his magical 400-game milestone against Richmond at the MCG next Saturday night, coach James Hird has confirmed.

There had been murmurings that the Bombers would hold Fletcher's milestone match back a week to coincide with the club's home game against Geelong on June 6.

But Hird said that was not the case, with the 40-year-old to become just the third player after Michael Tuck and Kevin Bartlett in VFL/AFL history to break the 400-game barrier in the Dreamtime at the 'G clash against the Tigers.

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"Unless he falls over in the shower, he'll play his 400th next week, which is huge for our footy club and huge for Fletch and his family," Hird said after Essendon's 58-point win over the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

"The marketing department were pretty keen for that (delaying the milestone), but it's football and he's one of our better players at the moment.

"We need him to play."

There were fears that Fletcher may not run out next week after he landed awkwardly in a marking contest late in the third-quarter against the Lions.

The veteran defender was subbed out of the game not long after, but Hird said it was a planned management move.

"Fletcher's fine. We were actually going to sub him with five minutes to go in that (third quarter) and we couldn't get him off and then he landed awkwardly (in a marking contest)," Hird said.

"He's 100 per cent."

Fellow veteran Paul Chapman also appeared to be proppy late in the game, but Hird allayed any fears.

"He got a corkie in his hamstring; a guy landed on him," Hird said. 

"It's not a strained hamstring, it could have some blood in it and it could be hard for him to run early in the week, but we're confident he'll get up for the Richmond game.

"If he doesn't (play) he doesn't, but it's [not that serious]."

However, star midfielder David Zaharakis is no certainty to come back into the side against the Tigers as he is still struggling with a niggling ankle complaint.

Zaharakis has missed the Bombers' past two encounters against Fremantle and the Lions with the injury.

"He's a chance. He's not definite," Hird said.

"He's still not running that well. We'll give him a good run tomorrow (Monday) and make a decision early in the week.

"At the moment he's probably a 50/50 chance."