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Stringer decision looms as Dogs ponder trade value

Jake Stringer appears set to nominate Bombers - AFL,Trade,Contracts,Free Agency,Western Bulldogs,Essendon Bombers,Jake Stringer
Jake Stringer appears set to nominate Bombers

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IN-DEMAND forward Jake Stringer will make a decision on his playing future this weekend, but Essendon is in the box seat to welcome him to the club.

Stringer's manager Paul Connors, of Connors Sports, confirmed on NAB AFL Trade Radio on Friday morning that his client was "leaning" towards the Bombers.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge revealed in a News Corp interview in mid-September that the 2016 premiers would pursue a trade for the troubled 2015 All Australian.

Stringer, 23, is also dealing with explosive allegations from his former partner and mother of his children that he repeatedly cheated on her and has a gambling problem.

Greater Western Sydney midfielder-forward Devon Smith and Gold Coast dasher Adam Saad have already nominated Essendon as their club of choice in a boon for John Worsfold's side.

"He's got the information, and he will sit down with his family and make a decision over the weekend," Connors said of Stringer.

"He's contracted, so you can never rule that out 100 per cent (staying at the Bulldogs), but I think there's a meeting of the minds that it's best for Jake to play elsewhere. That will play out behind the scenes.

"We've got faith in Adrian (Dodoro) and Rob Kerr and Xavier Campbell and the team that if he did choose Essendon, they could get the deal done.

"But, again, when you're contracted it's a lot more complicated than if you're not. On the flip side to that, Jake wanted to stay, they wanted to move him, and now we're acting on that."

The Bombers will almost certainly have to part with their first two picks – 11 and 28 – in this year's NAB AFL Draft, and potentially later ones, in any package to secure Stringer, Smith and Saad.

Dogs list manager Jason McCartney told the club will drive a hard bargain with reports suggesting they want a top-10 pick.

"He's a contracted player and we'll be looking to secure the best compensation for Jake otherwise being contracted we'd be more than happy to have him don the red, white and blue in 2018," he said.

"Well that's been reported (top-10 pick). We won't go into details into what we're after.

"But we know he's talent. If you look at the pure talent side of things, and Jake on his day, there's not many with his talent.

"I think as a whole industry we need to be really mature about these things, it's something we'll see more and more of. At the end of the day anyone is tradable at the right price."

Connors chose not to directly address Stringer's private issues, only saying the premiership forward knew he had work to do in his football and non-football life.

"I hope he can do that outside of the media glare in time," Connors said.

"He's in a better spot than he was three weeks ago, he's learning to deal with many things, and I just prefer to let his footy do the talking next year and hopefully he can go low key."

Connors, as usual, is a big player in this period, with Luke Hodge already bound for the Brisbane Lions – with terms to be confirmed – and Jack Watts among the potential trade chips.

Port Adelaide and Sydney are among the clubs circling Watts, while Collingwood has also shown interest in the No.1 pick from the 2008 NAB AFL Draft.

"I think he's just getting his head around that he probably should seriously look at his options," Connors said.

"He's thought about (leaving the Demons) over the years, but every time some club's come at him, he's rejected it, because he's seen Melbourne with a good future."

Connors is also trying to orchestrate new deals for out-of-favour Port Adelaide forward Aaron Young and Bulldog Stewart Crameri, who could yet stay at the kennel.

Gold Coast co-captain Tom Lynch comes out of contract next year, but his future is already a hot topic. The Suns announced Stuart Dew as their new coach on Thursday.

"Tom is a leader of the club, he's captain and I don't want him playing out in the media all year – he hasn't even met the coach," Connors said.

"I've said this once before, but Tom Lynch could think of nothing better than playing finals football for Gold Coast. I think reports (that Lynch has) one foot out the door are ridiculous."

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