ESSENDON has announced its first batch of replacements for the NAB Challenge, with five former AFL players agreeing to join the Bombers for the pre-season competition.
Mitch Brown (formerly of Geelong), Jared Petrenko (Adelaide), Clint Jones (St Kilda) and James Magner and Mitch Clisby (Melbourne) have committed to playing with the club.
Although the players are yet to sign contracts – that process will be confirmed in coming days – Dons list manager Adrian Dodoro said the players were set to feature for the Bombers after discussions with the club.
"They will come into the club on Thursday to do medical testing, they will go through an induction process and we will treat them like a regular AFL player," Dodoro told the club's website.
"They still have to tick some boxes before they sign the contract but it appears we are heading down that path with these boys."
The Bombers have covered several bases with their first group of top-up players, with Brown capable of playing in key positions at both ends of the ground, Petrenko a clever forward, Clisby a running defender and Jones and Magner strong midfielders.
Dodoro contacted Sandringham on Tuesday to inform the VFL club of Essendon's interest in Brown and Jones.
Sandringham general manager John Mennie said the club was pleased for Brown, who was desperate to reignite his AFL career.  
"When he came back to Sandy we said to him we'll do everything we can to get him back on an AFL list next year and give him every opportunity to prove he's worthwhile at AFL level," Mennie told
"We were very surprised nobody picked him up [last year]. He's a tall key forward and key back, but we'll support him in every shape or form to get him back on an AFL list for sure."
Brown, who was taken with pick 15 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, spent six years on Geelong's list but was unable to break through for consistent games as either a forward or defender, registering just 15 appearances.
Greater Western Sydney was linked to Brown ahead of the pre-season draft but he did not find a new home and joined Sandringham's VFL side.
The Bombers had hoped to have most of the top-up players at the club this week, but it is more likely the full group will not be together until next week.
The 25 Essendon players who were at the club during 2012 will not be available for the NAB Challenge after agreeing to sit out the competition so to protect the anonymity of the 18 or so players who are provisionally suspended through the ASADA saga.