ESSENDON will be without defender Michael Hurley for Thursday night's clash against Hawthorn.
Hurley is a late withdrawal for the match at Adelaide Oval with Brandon Zerk-Thatcher coming in as his replacement.
Joe Daniher is a confirmed starter for his first game in more than 15 months.
FOLLOW IT LIVE Hawks and Bombers kick off at 4.40pm AEST
Following this clash, premiership heavyweights Richmond and West Coast will do battle in crucial clash at Metricon Stadium at 7.10pm AEST.
Daniher has endured persistent groin issues, while his recovery was further hampered by a calf strain earlier this year, limiting the club's attacking spearhead to just 11 matches over the last three seasons.
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He will be joined in the team by defender Cale Hooker and Andrew Phillips, who will shoulder the ruck load in the absence of Tom Bellchambers (knee) and Sam Draper (managed).
The Bombers simply must win to keep their finals hopes alive as they trail the eighth-placed Western Bulldogs by six premiership points, although Essendon does have a game in hand.
Hawthorn's chances of featuring in the finals are all but over, but the Hawks will be desperate to get a win over their old rivals.
At the selection table they have rested captain Ben Stratton and veteran Shaun Burgoyne, but get a welcome boost with Jack Gunston returning.
Jon Ceglar is also back to work in tandem with Ben McEvoy, which should give the Hawks the advantage in the ruck.