ESSENDON will consider another batch of debutants this week as the Bombers count the fallout of their thrashing to Port Adelaide.
No.9 pick Archie Perkins is pressing for his first AFL game after a run of impressive performances in the VFL through the midfield, while the Bombers could also turn to Nick Bryan as they look to fill the void left by injured big man Sam Draper.
Draper went down with what the club said was a "high ankle" injury in Saturday's defeat to the Power, with Bryan playing in the VFL on Saturday. The Bombers' other ruck option, Andrew Phillips, has been unavailable through injury in recent weeks.
The Bombers are set to be without Draper, Dylan Shiel (knee) and Jye Caldwell (hamstring) for Saturday's meeting with St Kilda after their 54-point loss to the Power, but could regain skipper Dyson Heppell after he was a late withdrawal with a back spasm.
The severity of Draper’s injury will be known after he gets scans on Monday, while the Bombers have ruled out an ACL injury for Shiel.
Perkins has been close to selection for the Bombers' opening two games, having been named an emergency for round one, and has impressed with his ball-winning ability at the lower level.
The club is confident the 19-year-old has the body size to compete at AFL level, having impressed with his training since joining the Bombers with one of their three top-10 picks last year.
Bryan, who was listed as an emergency last week against the Power, was drafted to the Bombers at the end of 2019 but did not feature at AFL level in his maiden season.
He played the second half of Essendon's practice game against Carlton this pre-season. The Bombers could also rejig their forward line by recalling Jake Stringer after his two appearances at VFL level and using Peter Wright in the ruck, with the former Gold Coast forward taking on the role after Draper left the field injured against Port.
Stringer has had an interrupted pre-season with Achilles issues, with coach Ben Rutten saying last week that the 2016 Western Bulldogs premiership goalkicker needed to get his fitness to a level that didn't put himself at risk of further injury before returning.
Alec Waterman, who the Bombers have been trialling across half-back, could be in the mix for his first game after being the travelling emergency in Adelaide, while Matt Guelfi and David Zaharakis returned from injury in the VFL on Saturday. Zaharakis was on restricted game-time, however, in his first game back from off-season knee surgery.
The Bombers blooded two first-gamers – Nik Cox and Harry Jones – in round one against Hawthorn as they prepare to play a youthful line-up this season.