ESSENDON will consider using Cale Hooker as a forward this week as the All Australian defender returns from a calf injury.
Although Bombers coach John Worsfold stopped short of confirming the 30-year-old would be picked to face Brisbane on Saturday at the MCG, Hooker is expected to face the Lions despite having not played a senior game so far this season.
The Bombers have been hit by injuries to their key forward ranks, with Shaun McKernan suffering a long-term hamstring tear in last week's win over Melbourne.
Spearhead Joe Daniher, also recovering from a calf injury, isn't expected to be available until round five, leaving Worsfold to assess the possibilities in the front half this week.
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Mitch Brown kicked five goals at VFL level last week and is also a chance to come in to the side. "We've got a few options to consider," Worsfold said on Wednesday.
During training on Wednesday, Hooker flipped between forward and defensive roles in the club’s match simulation drills.
Brisbane will enter the game unbeaten, with recruit Lachie Neale starring through its midfield.
The former Docker has averaged 38 disposals across his first three weeks as a Lion, including a 15-clearance effort against Port Adelaide last week.
Essendon does not usually deploy a hard tag on the opposition's most damaging midfielder, with Worsfold saying the Bombers needed to nut out a plan to limit Neale's influence.
"Our midfield group took on one of the best midfield groups last weekend and performed really well, so we're really confident that we'll take on Brisbane's midfield and match them with the same intensity we threw at Melbourne last weekend," he said.
"[Neale's] had an outstanding start and his last few years have been outstanding as a top-line midfielder."
Essendon broke the shackles against Melbourne last week, booting 20 goals – more than the combined 14 they had managed in the opening fortnight of the season.
The Bombers were encouraged to play on instinct and in an attacking fashion, but Worsfold didn't agree his side was still better placed when playing an offensive game style.
"Melbourne kicked 18 goals, which was disappointing for us, but it was from 22 shots. With the amount of inside-50s they had (63 to Essendon's 53 entries), the defenders defended that really well to let them only have 22 shots at goal," he said.
"We've spoken a lot about it. We need to improve in all aspects of our game to become one of the top threats in the competition."