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Bombers unsure of Hooker's availability for finals

Worsfold: 'It won't be about one final' John Worsfold says it's a significant achievement to reach September but it doesn't end there
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 27: Heath Hocking of the Bombers in action during the 2017 AFL round 23 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium on August 27, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Heath Hocking came into the side as a late replacement for Cale Hooker and kicked two important goals

ESSENDON is unsure whether key forward Cale Hooker will play in its elimination final in two weeks after pulling out of the Bombers' win over Fremantle with a tight calf.

The Bombers secured their place in the top eight with a workmanlike 15-point win over Fremantle on Sunday, seeing them back in the finals for the first time since 2014.

Hooker was a very late withdrawal for the Dockers' clash at Etihad Stadium after experiencing a tight calf in the Bombers' warm-up. He was replaced by Heath Hocking, who kicked two important goals in the win.

Full match coverage and stats

Coach John Worsfold said Hooker, who has booted 41 goals this season in his first full year playing as a permanent forward, will need to get checked in coming days before the club knows more about his availability.

"He felt as though he'd done something to his calf in the warm-up so he got assessed and it was too risky for him to take the field," Worsfold said.

"He wasn't going to be able to play anywhere near top speed, so we now need to find out what's wrong, whether there's any major issue or if it's just a tight calf. We're hopeful it's just a tight calf."

Five talking points: Essendon v Fremantle

Michael Hurley missed his second game with a calf strain but is expected to play in two weeks, while Orazio Fantasia is also a chance to return after straining his hamstring in round 20.

The Bombers are set to travel for their elimination final as they aim to win their first final since 2004. They have lost four of six games on the road this year. One of those defeats was the thrilling clash with Sydney at the SCG, when the Swans won with a kick after the siren.

Worsfold said the win over the Dockers, who were far more competitive than their previous two weeks where they were belted by 104 points successively, had provided a good lead-up to the finals.

WATCH: Merrett marshals the finals pursuit

"We're confident (in) our best footy, and with potential inclusions coming in, that we're going to have a really well-prepared team," he said.

"The season fills me with confidence, and the character of the guys. You can go back and look at the one-on-one contests that happened throughout the year but so much has changed since that time [against the Swans].

"We go up wherever we're playing excited that, knowing when we hit our best footy, [it can be] unstoppable. We want to be better than we were today over the course of the full 120 minutes, but that's what we'll prepare for now."

WATCH: John Worsfold's full post-match press conference

Essendon's return to the finals comes on the back of the club's horror four seasons ruined by the doping scandal, and sees them become the first team since Worsfold's Eagles in 2011 to make the finals a year after claiming the wooden spoon.

Worsfold described the Bombers' ability to make the finals after winning 12 games this season as a "significant achievement", but said it had not been as simple as the returning players from doping suspensions making all the difference.

"It was never going to be as easy as 'These guys are back in'. We only ended up with 10 of the players back at the club and we know not all of those guys have been a regular part of the 22 week-in week-out, but they have all played a significant role in pulling the club back together," he said.