FORMER Brisbane Lions ruckman Sam Michael is set to become the latest player join Essendon as a top-up player for the NAB Challenge.
Michael played three games for the Lions in 2013 and has been in positive discussions with the Bombers in recent days. 
Essendon football operations manager Rob Kerr selected Michael in 2012 as a rookie when Kerr was list manager at the Brisbane Lions. 
He told the club's website the 21-year-old could play a number of roles. 
"He'd be a handy back-up for either ruck or key position," Kerr said.
Essendon has been forced to find top-up players to field a side in the NAB Challenge as it awaits the findings of an AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal hearing held after about 18 members of its squad received infraction notices in November. 
Those players with infraction notices are serving provisional suspensions, and all players who were part of Essendon's 2012 playing list have withdrawn from the NAB Challenge to protect the charged players' anonymity.  
Kerr said the AFL and the AFLPA had finalised the contract arrangements for top-up players on Tuesday and would be sending the terms to the players and their state league clubs.
If all parties agreed to those contracts then the Bombers hoped to have the majority of their top-up players on the training track on Wednesday afternoon. 
Essendon has shown an interest in securing former Demons James Magner and Mitch Clisby, ex-Cat Mitch Brown, former Saint Clint Jones and ex-Crow Jared Petrenko to assist the club during the NAB Challenge. 
Kerr said he thought six top-up players were probably enough for the NAB Challenge but the club would assess the situation as the series unfolded. 
"Obviously you're relying on everyone being fit and you're also relying on most of our players who are on the Essendon list who are available to be fit," he said.  
"We're continuing to talk to one or two VFL clubs to see whether they would be happy to provide us with an extra few players if we needed the numbers. 
"We're hopeful that may not be the case but we'll have a better idea once we get through this week, see how our own list looks at the end of the week and then assess it from there."
Kerr also confirmed that James Hird would coach the team during the NAB Challenge.