CARLTON will be aiming to spoil Essendon's party when the arch-rivals meet in a mouth-watering Friday night blockbuster at the MCG.

The Bombers' 150-year anniversary game could shape as a celebration despite their struggles this season as they sit at 2-9.

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However, they'll need to do it without gun defender Andrew McGrath (groin), who initially suffered the complaint during the team's main training session over their bye weekend, and was listed as a test earlier this week.

He has been replaced by Tom Cutler in the starting line-up, with Alec Waterman to start on the bench as the substitute.

Carlton is unchanged, with Matt Cottrell as the starting medical sub.

Carlton (8-3) will be trying to play party pooper while bidding to enhance its top-four credentials with another win.

03:01 Mins
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The Bombers are boosted by the return of Jake Stringer, with Mason Redman and Matt Guelfi also back.

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However, Carlton is regaining guns of its own with Harry McKay, Jack Martin and Matthew Kennedy back, joined by Caleb Marchbank and Jordan Boyd.

Essendon v Carlton at the MCG, 7.50pm AEST

Essendon: Andrew McGrath (groin) replaced in selected side by Tom Cutler
Carlton: Nil

Essendon: Alec Waterman
Carlton: Matthew Cottrell

09:29 Mins
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