ESSENDON coach John Worsfold has leapt to the defence of Orazio Fantasia after the small forward was upstaged by teammate Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti in the last-gasp win against North Melbourne last Saturday.
Worsfold said Fantasia played a key defensive role in limiting the rebound of Roos defender Marley Williams, giving his Bombers mate more space to weave his goalkicking magic that included the winner in the last few seconds.
“He took Marley Williams all night, which potentially meant we could get McDonald-Tipungwuti into the position that we wanted him,” Worsfold told reporters on Tuesday.
“The players play a role in the team structure, so it’s a credit to him. We know Orazio is going to have an impact for us.
“They’ll get their turns. There’s games this year where Orazio has kicked goals and ‘Walla’ (McDonald-Tipungwuti) hasn’t because of the match-ups we want to try and see.
“So it’s a pretty narrow perspective to say it’s just about Orazio and his numbers.”
Captain Dyson Heppell will be back to lead the eighth-placed Bombers against Adelaide on Friday night if he completes training requirements this week.
Experienced defender Patrick Ambrose, who has missed three weeks with a thigh injury, is the expected replacement for key backman Michael Hurley against the seventh-placed Crows.
But Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, pick 66 in the 2017 draft, is pushing for an AFL debut after solid VFL form.
“(Hurley) had (shoulder) surgery yesterday and now it’s just recovery time. Not sure of the time-frame, obviously, it will be a number of weeks and we’ll just just play it by ear,” Worsfold said.
“Paddy Ambrose we expect to be right to go, but Brandon has been in wonderful form in the VFL as has Michael Hartley, so we’ve got a few options to consider.
“We’re just working hard on how we want to play week to week.
© AAP 2019