FRESH off Essendon's sixth consecutive loss to the Western Bulldogs last week, coach John Worsfold was left to lament another midfield domination at the hands of the Dogs.
"Their midfield has a lot of strengths that tend to come out in the game against us, we've struggled against them around that area," Worsfold said post-game.
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In a side lacking captain Dyson Heppell, prime mover Dylan Shiel and burst midfielder Jake Stringer, Dogs Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore all starred in the 42-point result.
While that trio of missing midfielders would help offset the lack of experience shown last Friday night, it wouldn't address Essendon's biggest deficiency in its onball unit.
The need for a big-bodied midfielder.
It's why when Essendon speedster Orazio Fantasia was linked with a switch to Port Adelaide at the end of last season, the Bombers started to inquire about the Power's then co-captain Ollie Wines.
The 25-year-old has close links to Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell, with the pair playing together for Echuca before Wines was drafted to South Australia at the end of 2012.
Campbell is understood to have at least been part of early conversations at Bomberland last year.
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Wines, who holds a contract at Alberton until the end of 2022, ultimately stayed and has enjoyed a strong month in the Power's table-topping side.
But the need for a player like him – a bullocking 187cm midfielder – at Essendon remains.
Campbell single-handedly led, and secured, the move for Shiel on a six-year deal from Greater Western Sydney at the end of 2018.
This time around he needs to pick up the phone to Wines and get the ball rolling on the Bombers' final midfield piece. He should have his number.
Essendon's strongest midfield brigade consists of Shiel, Heppell, Zach Merrett, Devon Smith, Andy McGrath and Darcy Parish.
It's an engine room that lacks a big frame to contend long-term with the likes of Bontempelli, Patrick Cripps and Nat Fyfe.
It's why the Bombers chased Will Setterfield (192cm) at the end of 2018 before missing out to Carlton and why Jacob Townsend was recruited at the end of last season.
But much like Stringer (before his syndesmosis injury), the injuries in the forward half have meant Townsend has played mostly as a key target in attack to date this season.
Right now – in a week the contract freeze was lifted – there is one common theme among rival clubs and player agents: Ollie Wines is gettable at the end of 2020.
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Carlton was made aware of Wines' interest in a return to Victoria at the end of last season in unique fashion.
While his management continued to keep the questioning media at bay over the Blues talk, a joke with Echuca-based ex-Carlton star Andrew Walker and Wines' father Tony had escalated to something more and made its way down the highway.
The pair work a stone's throw from each other in the heart of the town on the banks of the Murray River, with Walker also coaching the club Wines and Campbell once played for.
And even though Walker had been removed from any official capacity at Ikon Park for 12 months, the chatter of Wines being open to a move made its way to the Blues' recruiting team.
Port Adelaide insisted Wines wasn't going anywhere and he stayed. But the belief from others who know the trade space is that come this year's transaction period, it may be a different story.
He has long been seen as a whipping boy for Ken Hinkley internally at Port Adelaide and was left frustrated in round three when he wasn't immediately recalled to the side from a shoulder injury before copping a one-match ban for breaking COVID-19 protocols.
Given multiple years of salary cap underspend, the Power are in no need to ship Wines off despite his healthy contract for the next two years.
In fact, they will be in a position to target a player from elsewhere before they have to re-contract emerging stars Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, Todd Marshall and Xavier Duursma in years to come.
But if the Fantasia possibility opens up again (and the Bombers cash in on a deal a year before he becomes a free agent), the Power may need something to deal the other way with no first-round pick at their disposal.
Their midfield is so flush with options right now that Tom Rockliff can't get a game.
While Setterfield and Matt Kennedy continue to find their feet next to Cripps, Carlton's midfield could do with a player like Wines. But after securing Jack Martin on a heavily front-ended deal and the lure of Tom Papley remaining, their priorities may well be elsewhere.
While the Bombers will have to look at Gold Coast's Will Brodie (189cm) or Geelong's Charlie Constable (191cm) if the Wines move doesn't eventuate, the ex-Power skipper should be front of the pecking order.
Campbell has succeeded with Shiel. Could he pull off another coup with a former teammate?
They are the Echuca Bombers after all.