ESSENDON star Andrew McGrath remains in doubt for Friday night's battle against Carlton, but influential mid-forward Jake Stringer is set to return.  

Stringer has played just four matches this season, the last being in the loss to the Western Bulldogs in round seven.

"Absolutely he is (100 per cent)," Bombers coach Ben Rutten said of Stringer.

"The week off came at a good time for us to be able to get some continuity in his training. He's in good condition, well prepared and ready to go."

04:54 Mins
Published on

Footy Feed: Dons' birthday Package, Harry's here, Pie query

Sarah Olle with the latest footy news

Published on

Mason Redman (suspension) and Matt Guelfi (hamstring) are also likely to return, but McGrath appears unlikely after suffering a groin injury at training last Saturday.

Meanwhile, Rutten denies he is feeling more pressure as a result of Essendon's football department review, which has cast a shadow over the club's 150-year anniversary celebrations.

The Bombers limped to their mid-season bye with just two wins and have been under an intense spotlight ahead of the primetime clash against their old rivals.

The horror slide has come after a finals appearance last year and led to the review, announced by president Paul Brasher last week.

Now in his second full season at the helm, Rutten has repeatedly received public backing from Brasher and chief executive Xavier Campbell.

Ben Rutten leads Essendon off the MCG after the R6, 2022 loss to Collingwood. Picture: Getty Images

The 39-year-old is adamant he is well supported and shares a "really strong alignment" with the club hierarchy.

"We're really clear on the process we're trying to embed as a footy club, where we're at as a group and where we want to get to," Rutten said.

"That's the main thing and reviewing is part of the process of what we're doing regularly.

"That process is about us always striving to improve in all aspects and that won't end."

Club greats have lamented Essendon's decline this year, with former captain turned media commentator Matthew Lloyd particularly scathing in his assessment at times.

Rutten said wearing external criticism is "part of the job" but admits there have been "elements of frustration" in his team's performance this season.

Dyson Heppell walks off after the loss to Port Adelaide in round 11 on May 29, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"In our most recent performance (against Port Adelaide) we were 0.8 on the scoreboard before we kicked our first goal," Rutten said.

"We're doing a lot of stuff there that we're actually pleased with.

"We're not quite getting the level of execution at times to be able to get the scoreboard recognition and get a bit of that positive affirmation for what we're doing.

"But there's a committed group of players, coaches and staff that are connected and aligned to what we're trying to achieve."

Essendon has tapped into its history ahead of the Carlton clash, which serves as the centrepiece in the 150-year anniversary celebrations.

Club greats including Michael Long, Simon Madden, Kevin Sheedy and the Daniher brothers will all be involved in the festivities at the MCG.

Terry Daniher gatecrashed a team meeting to give the Bombers a rev-up this week, drawing on the long-held rivalry with the Blues.

"We love that about him and what you can see in all of those guys is their passion," Rutten said.

"They're so invested in the football club and (Friday) night is an opportunity where we can actually represent every one of those guys.

"Our guys are driven to leave a footprint like they have on the footy club."