ESSENDON coach Ben Rutten has declared his struggling side needs more from Jake Stringer than the returning star produced against Carlton, labelling his game "poor".
When asked if Stringer – playing his first game since a hamstring injury suffered in round seven – needed more continuity in his footy after nine disposals, one mark and one behind in the 26-point loss to the Blues, Rutten was blunt.
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"I hope so. Yeah, he had a poor game tonight, he's a senior player for us, we need more from him. Hopefully he'll get a bounce out of that," Rutten said.
"I don't think [he needs more training]. His last couple of weeks – he would have played last week if we didn't have the bye, so his preparation's been fine."
In an otherwise relatively upbeat press conference, Rutten was pleased with his side's endeavour, particularly in the second half of the third term, but said execution remained an issue for the two-win Bombers.
The side kicked four behinds in the space of about 10 minutes, as well as one shot missing everything entirely, and the margin hovered between 4-5 goals for the remainder of the game.
"I thought our general contest work (was good), we had 75-odd tackles, we were able to get our share around the contest. Carlton have been pretty good in that space around stoppages and their contested work," Rutten said.
"I think we were ahead in our ground balls inside 50, which is an important stat generally, that's what gives you the opportunities around goal.
"Execution around goal, execution around the ground, there's still some cost for us in those areas."
Rutten said top midfielder Darcy Parish had suffered a bad cork in his calf, and it would need some time to settle before an assessment could be made on his availability, while late withdrawal Andrew McGrath (calf) should be right for next week against St Kilda.
Carlton made a very early substitution in the 26-point win, with Adam Cerra removed from the game inside the first 10 minute with a hamstring problem. Coach Michael Voss said Cerra was unlikely to be available for next week's clash against Richmond.
"Until he gets scans, like we tend to with these, we'll wait and see what it looks like. We're certainly hoping it's at the minor end, but hamstring tightness at the moment," Voss said.
Carlton is currently in the top four, but its percentage of 114.9 is the lowest of the top eight sides, with 10th-place Western Bulldogs (118.5) having a better ratio than the Blues.
"It doesn't bother me, I don't look at it, to be fair. From day dot – and you've heard me talk about this every time I've sat here – we celebrate the four points," Voss said.
"This is an extremely hard environment in which we play in. We take nothing for granted in what we've been given, because we have to deserve it. There was a lot going on around the game about Essendon and what they were celebrating (150 years), and it was a really important night for them.
"We were conscious of all of that, the players got themselves really prepared for that, but more importantly, I think we locked in on a way we wanted to play. In some areas, that was taken off us, but what I'm pleased at is our players were able to adapt and we won in a slightly different way. Some of our back-half transition was fantastic."