ESSENDON coach John Worsfold has backed small forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti to recapture his best form, with the livewire a victim of the Bombers' forward line injury woes.
Those woes are set to deepen for Wednesday night's clash with Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium, with Jacob Townsend ruled out through concussion.
He will join Joe Daniher (groin), Orazio Fantasia (calf), Jake Stringer (ankle) and Jayden Laverde (ankle) as forwards sidelined for the Bombers, with Fantasia a chance to return against St Kilda on Sunday.
McDonald-Tipungwuti has booted 10 goals from nine games this season and averaged nine disposals, and his pass to Shaun McKernan from inside-50 late in the clash against the Giants was questioned post-game.
But Worsfold said the Bombers' forward injury crisis had made for a flow-on effect to the game-changing goalkicker.
"He's not far off [his best]. He's playing some pretty good footy for us and his pressure is, as always, a strong part of his game and keeps the opposition on their toes," Worsfold said on Monday.
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"What we're really working towards is having a forward line that really understands their roles and works well together. We haven't had a lot of continuity with the guys playing alongside each other.
"We've had to use 'Walla' in a couple of different roles throughout the year to help out as we've blooded a couple of younger players. But overall he's in good shape and at some point maybe he'll end up with a bigger haul of goals.
"But as long as the Essendon footy club ends up with a good tally, we'll be happy."
The Bombers need that tally to come this week against the Suns after falling outside the top-eight following last week's last-gasp loss to Greater Western Sydney.
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They then face the Saints four days later at the Gabba and Worsfold said the club would think about that game as it made its selections for the Suns clash.
Backline revelation Jordan Ridley finished Friday night's loss to the Giants with sore ribs but Worsfold said he was confident the youngster would play this week.
The Bombers are still unsure when captain Dyson Heppell will be available after ankle surgery, with Worsfold saying he could be back in "three weeks or six weeks".
"It's a bit of an unknown at the moment but he's progressing really well," he said. "I think it will be hopefully really quick."