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Suspended Don midfielder signs new deal

Gunston's warning, Don signs, Jaeger's future Nat Edwards with your Wednesday Footy Feed
Suspended midfielder Brent Stanton has re-signed with the Bombers - ${keywords}
Suspended midfielder Brent Stanton has re-signed with the Bombers

ESSENDON midfielder Brent Stanton has become the seventh suspended Bomber to commit to returning to the club next season.

The 30-year-old had been weighing up whether to rejoin the Bombers once his anti-doping ban ends but the club has confirmed AFL.com.au's report that he has decided to return to the club for the 2017 season.

It is a one-year deal.  

He joins Cale Hooker, Dyson Heppell, Tom Bellchambers, Travis Colyer, Heath Hocking and David Myers as the banned players to re-sign or recommit to the Bombers for next year.

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His signature leaves Michael Hurley, Jobe Watson, Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears as the banned players who are yet to recommit for next year.

Stanton signed a one-year extension at the end of last season with a trigger clause for a second year in 2017, but was clearly unable to meet that mark after he was handed a 12-month WADA ban.

The veteran on-baller said in June he was "leaning towards" continuing his career at Essendon once his ban finished, but that there remained "anger" because he had been forced to the sidelines in the twilight of his career.

But he told SEN on Wednesday night that he was passionate about playing next year.

"I'm not disillusioned by how old I am and how long I have got left in the game," Stanton said.

"I still believe I've got a lot to give to the football club and a lot to the game.

"The passion has always been there and there's been a drive. I've still been training three or four days a week and I'm really looking forward to finishing my career, hopefully on a high note and having a bit of fun at the same time." 

He will head into next season with 248 games to his name, having played 20 or more games in every season from 2006-2015.

Stanton finished second in the 2011 best and fairest count and third in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and has been a consistent member of Essendon's midfield line-up alongside Watson and Heppell in recent years.

He said the banned Bombers that have recommitted to the club would return in good shape.

"I feel that all the players are in a good position to go straight back into the program at the end of November and really push forward and hopefully we don't start too slowly next year because of the 12 months out," Stanton said.

"But it's just like having a 12-month injury but we've been able to train full-time and keep our bodies and minds refreshed a little bit but also keep it on the game. I think most of the guys have been watching the footy and watching the trends and really been interactive with the game of football still." 

Coach John Worsfold has remained confident the club will retain the services of its dozen suspended players for next season and Stanton said he had taken his time to reach "the right decision" to come back to Essendon.

"Being a one-club player with Essendon is something that is really important to me," he said.

"Witnessing the spirit and performance from the boys this season, and also our loyal members and supporters, gives me great confidence in the direction of the football club."