JAKE Carlisle is committed to turning himself into the "best forward in the competition" at Essendon, coach James Hird says.
There has been speculation the out-of-contract big man has been unhappy playing up forward, but Hird said Carlisle dismissed that talk in a heart-to-heart meeting between the pair over dinner on Tuesday night.
"Jake is committed to being a star forward in the AFL and that's what he wants to do," Hird said on Friday morning.
"Out of his mouth was that, 'I want to be the best forward in the competition and I want to do it at Essendon'."
Hird said the pair spoke about all things football, as well as Carlisle's contract situation.
The 198cm swingman told AFL.com.au recently that he was prepared to wait until later this year before ramping up contract discussions with the Bombers.
Carlisle's manager Anthony McConville has indicated there has been significant interest in his client's services.
Hird said Carlisle would put pen to paper when he was ready.
"It's not my job to put pressure on a player," Hird said.
"He's got a contract here until the end of the year and he and his manager will work that all out.
"From my perspective, I want him to work hard, train hard and play to the best of his ability."
It will be in the ruck where Carlisle will spend the majority of his time against West Coast at Domain Stadium on Saturday.
The Bombers will head into the game against the Eagles without a recognised ruckman after Hird and his match committee decided to drop the out of form Tom Bellchambers.
Key forward Joe Daniher and utility Patrick Ambrose may also be needed as back-up for Carlisle, considering he will be opposed to Nic Naitanui.
"We didn't think we had a ruckman in good enough form," Hird said when explaining his reasoning behind dropping Bellchambers.
"Jon Giles has been ok in the reserves but he needs to play a bit better."
"Tom (Bellchambers) hasn't been great for the last three or four weeks and needs to go back and find some form in the VFL.
"We've got a plan that probably won't stop Nic Naitanui, because no one stops him, but will hopefully negate some of his influence."
Hird said rookie-listed ruckman Shaun McKernan would most likely have been picked had the club been able to retain him on the primary list.
The Bombers put Jason Winderlich – who played in the VFL last weekend – off the long-term injury list, returning McKernan to the rookie list.
"We would've liked to have had him, but just the way the rules are we won't get him until probably next week," Hird said.
Essendon has regained captain Jobe Watson, after he missed last Saturday night's loss to Geelong due to a groin strain, while former Greater Western Sydney forward Shaun Edwards will play his first game for the club.
The 4-6 Bombers travel to Perth later on Friday, desperate to snap a two-game losing streak.