ESSENDON has made brave calls on star duo Zach Merrett and Jake Stringer, with both set to make remarkable returns from injury ahead of Monday's crucial Anzac Day clash with Collingwood.
Merrett has been absent since round two with a syndesmosis injury, while Stringer has been sidelined since round three with a hamstring problem, with both surprise inclusions in Bombers' extended 26-man squads earlier this week.
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Their place in Monday's fixture was subsequently at the forefront of much speculation, though the gun pair both return – alongside young forward Kaine Baldwin – as the Bombers look to improve upon their horror 1-4 start to the year.
Speedy defender Nick Hind and veteran forward Devon Smith have been axed from Essendon's team, alongside Tom Cutler, with ruckman Andrew Phillips going out of the team due to injury.
Collingwood has also named three inclusions, with key forward trio Brody Mihocek, Beau McCreery and Jack Ginnivan all returning from injury. They replace the omitted Callum Brown, Mason Cox and Tom Wilson, as well as the injured Jordan Roughead.
In Monday's earlier game, Sydney superstar Lance Franklin will make a return against his former side Hawthorn in place of Sam Reid after missing last week's trip to Western Australia with a broken finger.
It means that former Swans captain Josh Kennedy is an emergency again after starting last week's win over the Eagles as the substitute.
The Hawks have four inclusions, led by star Chad Wingard, youngster Will Day and ruckman Max Lynch all returning from frustrating injury-interrupted starts. Finn Maginness also returns.
Changkuoth Jiath, Mitch Lewis, Tom Phillips and Ned Reeves are all forced omissions due to respective injury issues, while veteran midfielder Liam Shiels has been managed for the match.
Sunday, April 24
North Melbourne v Geelong at Blundstone Arena, 1.10pm AEST
In: T.Thomas, P.Curtis, C.Zurhaar
Out: A.Hall (hamstring), J.Stephenson (illness), T.Powell (omitted), E.Ford (omitted)
New: Paul Curtis
Last week's sub: T. Powell (replaced A. Hall)
In: S.Higgins, O.Dempsey
Out: P.Dangerfield (injured), L.Dahlhaus (managed), J.Henry (injured)
New: Oliver Dempsey
Last week's sub: J. Kolodjashnij (replaced J. Henry)
Gold Coast v Brisbane at Metricon Stadium, 4.10pm AEST
Out: R.Atkins (omitted), A.Davies (omitted)
Last week's sub: R. Atkins (replaced M. Chol)
Out: M.Robinson (calf), N.Cockatoo (omitted)
Last week's sub: N. Cockatoo (unused)
Richmond v Melbourne at the MCG, 7.25pm AEST
In: J.Gibcus, K.McIntosh, R.Mansell, R.Collier-Dawkins
Out: B.Miller (omitted), J.Aarts (omitted), M.Pickett (hamstring), H.Ralphsmith (ribs), M.Parker (omitted)
Last week's sub: J. Aarts (replaced H. Ralphsmith)
In: J.Smith, B.Brown, L.Dunstan
Out: J.Lever (HS Protocol), J.Viney (HS Protocol), T.McDonald (omitted), T.Bedford (Medi-Sub)
New: Luke Dunstan
Last week's sub: T. Bedford (unused)
Monday, April 25
Hawthorn v Sydney at UTAS Stadium, 12.30pm AEST
In: W.Day, C.Wingard, M.Lynch, F.Maginness
Out: M.Lewis (hamstring), N.Reeves (shoulder), C.Jiath (hamstring), T.Phillips (ankle), L.Shiels (managed)
Last week's sub: J.Worpel (replaced N. Reeves)
Out: S.Reid, J.Kennedy (Medi-Sub)
Last week's sub: J. Kennedy (unused)
Essendon v Collingwood at the MCG, 3.20pm AEST
In: J.Stringer, Z.Merrett, K.Baldwin
Out: N.Hind (omitted), D.Smith (omitted), T.Cutler (omitted), A.Phillips (hamstring)
Last week's sub: T. Cutler (replaced A. Phillips)
In: B.Mihocek, B.McCreery, J.Ginnivan
Out: J.Roughead (finger), M.Cox (omitted), C.Brown (omitted), T.Wilson (omitted)
Last week's sub: J. Noble (replaced D. Cameron)