ESSENDON players vying for a senior call-up will on Saturday have their first competitive hit-out since returning to the club last month.
Players outside of senior AFL teams have in the past two weeks been playing practice games against other listed players to ensure their fitness and conditioning remains strong. They are unable to play in state league competitions due to the strict COVID-19 rules applied to AFL players.
The games are not mandatory and Essendon chose not to have a game in round two when the club was flying to Sydney to take on the Swans, while last week's clash set for Sunday morning with the Demons was postponed due to Conor McKenna's positive COVID-19 test.
It means many Bombers fighting for a senior spot, including defender Patrick Ambrose, forward Jayden Laverde, midfielder Brayden Ham and ruckman Andrew Phillips, will get their first game since being back at the club following the season's shutdown period.
The length of the games, as well as the team line-ups, are at the discretion of the clubs involved, with shortened games and smaller teams likely around the competition.
The Bombers will play the Blues on Saturday, with Carlton midfielder Zac Fisher likely to line-up after overcoming his ankle injury he sustained in the Blues' round one loss to Richmond.
There will be eight reserves scratch matches across the weekend, with West Coast the only club not participating at all.
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A conjoined Fremantle and Port Adelaide side will take on Gold Coast's reserves on Saturday.
The matches are a result of the strict COVID-19 measures placed on AFL players to ensure they are not in contact with players outside of AFL club environments.
All of the scratch matches are closed to the public.