ESSENDON coach Ben Rutten refused to be drawn on how hard the club is chasing out-of-contract Melbourne gun Angus Brayshaw, but said the Bombers were exploring different options to improve their list.'s Inside Trading revealed in April that Essendon was among the clubs understood to be in a strong salary-cap position to attack the trade and free agency market.

The Bombers have been linked to Brayshaw, who is out of contract at season's end, throughout the year.

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Asked on Friday how hard the club would chase Brayshaw, Rutten said: "It's one of those things. We're getting to that stage of the year where every club is looking at different avenues to be able to strengthen and bolster their list and we're no different to that.

Angus Brayshaw runs with the ball in the R20 clash between Melbourne and Gold Coast on August 5, 2018. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's probably not one of those things I want to be commenting on, on contracted players at other clubs.

"We're certainly looking to improve our list, there's a number of avenues to be able to do that and at the right time we'll talk about that."

Essendon is on a three-match winning streak ahead of Sunday's blockbuster clash against Collingwood at the MCG.

However, at 6-11 and sitting 14th on the ladder, it has been a poor season for the Bombers, who made the finals in 2021.

Sam Draper celebrates a goal during Essendon's win over Gold Coast in round 18, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

But Rutten said he wasn't wondering about what could have been for his team after a run of wins over Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast.

"It's just part of the journey of us getting better," he said.

"I've said it a few times, we're a developing squad and we're continuing to evolve and learn and we're not the finished product. We're continuing to evolve and I think that's just part of our journey and part of us getting to where we are now is probably on the back of a few of those experiences as well."

Essendon added Alec Waterman, James Stewart and Massimo D'Ambrosio to its extended squad to face the Magpies, with the final team to be named later on Friday.

There was no room for Archie Perkins, with the young gun – pick No.9 in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft – set to return from a calf injury through the VFL.

Archie Perkins celebrates a goal during the round 14 clash between Essendon and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on June 17, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"He (Perkins) has got to get through today but hopefully he'll get some game time as well but that's more likely to be at VFL level for 'Perk'," Rutten said.

"Massimo as well, played a good game (in the VFL last week), James Stewart his first game back last week so there's a few of those guys that just need to build a bit more momentum, but pretty happy with our team at the moment as well."