SPECULATION Paddy Ryder may want to leave Essendon at the end of the season won't distract him ahead of the club's elimination final against North Melbourne, says coach Mark Thompson.
Ryder's future is unclear after it emerged this week a clause in the ruckman's contract could see him walk from the club, despite being tied to the Bombers to the end of 2016.
And while the club will meet with Ryder and his management at the end of the season to discuss his concerns, Thompson believes the ruckman’s performance against the Roos on Saturday night won't be affected by the attention.
"We haven't talked about it in team meetings, I haven't really spoken about it at all, to be honest," he said.
"I don't think it'll detract from his performance on Saturday. I think he's going to give everything to the team this year, and whatever happens next year, that's 'Hirdy's' (returning coach James Hird) problem."
Ryder has enjoyed the best and most consistent season of his career in 2014, playing through the ruck and switching forward, kicking 19 goals.
Thompson said there was no "angst" towards the 26-year-old.
"I don't know much about it. He seems happy. I thought that he was happy. He's playing good footy, that's all I care about," he said.
"I think most clubs are going to lose players in the future with these rules that are in place at the moment. People thought there'd be a lot more (movement) than there has.
"I think if you've got a good club, players will be happy to stay at the club. Hopefully we can convince Paddy to stay."
In the Bombers’ first finals appearance since 2011, Thompson flagged more forward time for Michael Hurley.
The inclusion of defender Ariel Steinberg, at the expense of forward Patrick Ambrose, gives the club more flexibility to use Hurley in attack despite a consistent season in the backline.
"They (North Melbourne) are tall up forward and we've been playing people like [David] Myers and [Michael] Hibberd on talls, so we might do that," he said.
"[Bringing in Steinberg] just gives us more options I think."
Thompson has also entered his final stretch as senior coach of the Bombers, with Hird back at the club and ready to take on the role at the end of Essendon's season.
Despite suggestions rivals may look to approach Thompson, he said he had not yet considered his plans beyond this season.
"I wanted to go as long as we can, but then other times you want it to finish too so we can stop this intense work rate," he said.
"When it happens it happens, and I'm looking forward to handing over to Hirdy.
"I don't know at this stage [about other opportunities]. All I know is that I want to get this year out of the way and not distract the players in any way possible."