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D-Day approaches for injured Bombers trio

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05: Orazio Fantasia of the Bombers (left) is consoled by teammate Cale Hooker after injuring his hamstring during the 2017 AFL round 20 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 05, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Orazio Fantasia is consoled by Cale Hooker after his round 20 injury
They're tracking pretty well and they're doing what they're told to do
John Worsfold

ESSENDON'S main training session on Wednesday looms as a possible D-Day for injured trio Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker and Orazio Fantasia as they press to be fit for the Bombers' elimination final against Sydney. 

Hurley looks the most certain to be available and would have been close to playing last weekend if not for the post-season bye, after battling a calf complaint in the last two rounds of the year.

But Fantasia (hamstring) will have to prove he can run at full pace at training on Wednesday, and Hooker (bone bruising) will need to show strong progress in the lead-up to Saturday's clash at the SCG.

Mega-preview: Second elimination final, Sydney v Essendon

"The big test is tomorrow,” coach John Worsfold said on Tuesday.

“They're tracking pretty well and they're doing what they're told to do. That's the big test tomorrow that they need to hit top speed, and tick off the boxes that we need to see from them.

"Then we'll be able to make the call. Hooker's probably a little bit different, because his injury's a bit different, so exactly what he'll do tomorrow I'll be guided by the high performance staff."

Worsfold said the club may give Hooker more time to prove his fitness beyond the mid-week session, but because Hurley and Fantasia were dealing with soft-tissue injuries they needed to pass certain benchmarks on Wednesday.

The Bombers coach, who has steered the club from bottom of the ladder last season into its first finals series since 2014, was non-committal about whether they would name the trio and give them to the last-minute to be passed fit.

"That'll be case by case. My expectation at the moment is that all three will be right to go, and if anything changes between now and then, and one of them breaks down at training, then we won't name them. We're not going to hide that tomorrow," he said.

Fantasia hasn't played since round 20 when he injured his hamstring in the Bombers' win over Carlton.

Since then he has been eyeing a return in the finals should Essendon make it, and after a season which netted him a career-high 38 goals, Worsfold said there would be no qualms about bringing him straight in for September.

"Right at this moment I'd be confident to bring him in off the preparation he's had," the coach said.

The Bombers will head to Sydney with some confidence after their round 14 battle at the SCG, which saw the visitors give up a 19-point lead with minutes to go in the last term to lose after the siren.

Coleman medallist Lance Franklin kicked 0.6 in that game but has a great record against Essendon throughout his career, kicking 64 goals in 14 games facing the Bombers.

Worsfold said the Bombers are weighing up whether to use All Australian backman Hurley on Franklin ahead of Michael Hartley and Patrick Ambrose.