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Bombers up for Sydney AFL forward task 

Bombers up for Sydney AFL forward task

Essendon have dropped one AFL big man and will be out to contain another when they meet the in-form Sydney on Saturday.

Coach Ben Rutten has left out leading goalkicker Cale Hooker in one of several changes following a poor loss to the Giants which left the Bombers two points outside the eight.

‘He’s been such a strong contributor all season. He probably hasn’t been at his best the last few weeks’ Rutten said ahead of the Gabba clash.

Essendon have dropped one AFL big man and will be out to contain another when they meet the in-form Sydney on Saturday. Pictured: Lance Franklin of the Swans on July 25

‘We expect him to go back, respond, get in some really good form and force his way back into the team.’

Veteran David Zaharakis and youngster Brayden Ham were also axed, with Aaron Francis to make his return from mental health leave, while Kyle Langford and Dylan Clarke have been included.

Rutten has backed his defenders to do a job on Lance Franklin, who had a one-match ban for striking overturned.

The 34-year-old, who slotted three goals for Sydney when they pipped Essendon by three points in round four, has kicked more goals against the Bombers (73 in 17 games) than any other club.

‘I slept a bit better for maybe one night,’ Rutten joked in reference to Franklin’s initial charge.

‘But we want to see our good players playing. Buddy is one of those. But we’re also well aware that the Swans are much more than a Buddy Franklin team.

‘They’ve got some really good depth across the whole field. Buddy obviously gets the reward of that and he’s been in some pretty good form.’

Rutten said the defence of Jayden Laverde, James Stewart and Jordan Ridley has been pleasing this season.

‘I’m sure they’re going to be looking forward to playing against another dynamic forward group in Sydney,’ he said.

‘Buddy will be one player in that but we’re not going to put all our preparation into him.’

‘Ideally we’ll get one player to go with him but we know how dynamic Buddy is. If he goes and plays up the ground a bit more we might have a different strategy.’

The Swans welcome back Callum Mills and Harry Cunningham who have served their quarantine time after attending a coronavirus exposure site earlier this month.

They’ve won their past four matches and are within striking distance of the top four.

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