DASHING Essendon defender Conor McKenna will miss Sunday's game against Gold Coast due to a family wedding.

The in-form 23-year-old, who is averaging 20 touches from his 17 games this year, will fly back to Ireland for his brother's nuptials.

"[McKenna] has our full support to do this and it has been a pre-planned arrangement for him to travel back to Ireland this round," Essendon general manager of football Dan Richardson said.

"Family comes first, and we wish the McKenna family well this week. We look forward to having Conor return to the club next week and being available for selection in round 20."

The Bombers are also sweating on the fitness of captain Dyson Heppell, who pulled up sore following his return from a foot injury, and dangerous forward Orazio Fantasia (hip).

Fantasia missed last round's strong win over Adelaide and will need to get through training this week.