JAKE Carlisle has been ruled out of Essendon's elimination final against North Melbourne after scans showed the forward's hamstring injury had not improved quickly enough to play.
The 22-year-old missed last week's draw with Carlton after suffering the minor injury at training during the week.
But despite Carlisle's hopes it would only be a one-week concern, Bombers coach Mark Thompson said the club's leading goalkicker would not return to the team to take on the Kangaroos.
"He's had a scan today and I think they've decided that he's going to miss one [more] game, so he's not playing," Thompson said on Monday.
"[The scan showed] there's something there still, he's not aware of it, but there's some damage there. Once there was damage there we knew today if there was he'd miss out."
The Bombers were already planning for their first final in three years under the assumption Carlisle would not be fit.
"I pretty much knew it was going to be two weeks," Thompson said.
Essendon enters the finals confident it will produce its best, despite regular lapses throughout this season.
Thompson believes the Bombers will be steeled in their return to the finals.
"I know we'll get the good Essendon. The players are just ready for it. They'll be fine," he said.
"They may not start well, but every game, almost for the whole year, they've been able to recapture their form.
"The plan is to start well and play well all day. If it happens it'd be great. If it doesn't, we've got pretty good experience at coming back."
Essendon hasn't won a final since 2004, and since then has been on the end of heavy elimination final losses in 2009 and 2011.
Returning to September, after been kicked out of last year's top-eight as part of the penalties for the supplements scandal, is achievement in itself.
Captain Jobe Watson explained his side's ability to ignore the distractions over the past two seasons to concentrate on winning.
"Being in an environment where there was so many uncontrollables around you, performance was one of the only things you could control," Watson said.
"The players felt like that was peaceful for them, being out and playing was an opportunity to be clear and to not be stressed. The stress of the game was less than the stress of a week. That was the reality of it."