A POTENT Essendon forward line led by Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti on Saturday is set to be bolstered by the imminent return of star forward Joe Daniher next week.
Daniher has been absent for almost a year, having dealt with persistent groin injuries last season before suffering a calf setback on the eve of the current campaign.
However, Essendon expects Daniher to soon re-join an improving attack that has booted 37 goals in its last two matches, with the 25-year-old set to return to football next week.
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The Bombers get their first taste of Good Friday football in six days' time, set to meet the Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium, before another six-day break leading into Anzac Day.
Whether or not Daniher is there, or plying his trade in the VFL, remains the only question.
"There's a few things that we've got to cover off there," Essendon coach John Worsfold said.
"We're confident he'll be available to play footy next week. Whether that means he's available for AFL selection, we want to tick off a few other things first.
"But if he doesn't get up for the AFL team, he'll be right to play in the VFL."
McDonald-Tipungwuti led Essendon's attack on Saturday, kicking a career-best seven goals as the Bombers completely overwhelmed a young Lions side to claim a 47-point victory.
The exciting forward's first five goals all came from set-shots, with Worsfold crediting his improved running base and endurance for enabling him to find space inside 50.
"Heading back to goal, some of his hard run gave him those rewards," Worsfold said.
"One of his goals, he ran that hard he was too tired to take the mark. But he got the free kick, then he was composed enough to slot a brilliant kick for goal.
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"He's worked extremely hard. We talked about him in the pre-season, about how good his pre-season had been and the work ethic he'd put in.
"He's going to be able to produce that when he needs to, because of that work."
McDonald-Tipungwuti failed to kick a goal in Essendon's first two matches of the year, before returning with hauls of four and seven majors in its last two victories.
But Worsfold said he never had to hold his nerve at the selection table with McDonald-Tipungwuti, crediting the team's improvement for his own individual rise.
"It's been a team effort in terms of being poor early and pulling together to understand why that was and what we wanted to do to improve," Worsfold said.
"It's certainly not specifically any one person holding their nerve, it's just been the ability to stay focused on what we're trying to achieve.
"In terms of an individual effort, it was a pretty special day for 'Walla'. But it only comes through a very strong improvement in the way the team is playing."