Stringer, McKenna to bolster AFL's Bombers

Michael Ramsey
Jake Stringer is Essendon's leading goal kicker in 2018 with 23 in 15 AFL games

Essendon will welcome back star forward Jake Stringer from injury for Friday night's AFL clash with Sydney at Etihad Stadium.

Stringer missed the Bombers' past two games with a calf strain but trained on Tuesday and is available for selection, along with speedy defender Conor McKenna.

It is a huge boost for the 11th-placed Bombers, who must win all their remaining games to stand a chance of making the finals.

The stakes are also high for the fourth-placed Swans, who are looking shaky after losing at home to Gold Coast in the upset of the season.

"(Stringer) has passed, from what I understand, everything that he's had to do and he's available," coach John Worsfold told reporters.

"The fact that he actually ran the (round 16) game out was a real positive.

"Conor is like Jake, he's ticked all the boxes."

Worsfold said the Bombers would consider recalling fringe forward James Stewart to replace the injured Shaun McKernan (hamstring).

But 2015 top draft pick Aaron Francis is set to miss out again despite another solid performance in the VFL.

"There is going to be a spot (for him) in our team going forward, we've got no doubt about that," Worsfold said.

"We've got four or five players that are playing well enough to be considered for senior selection but can't come into the team.

"Aaron is one of those and needs to continue to grow as a young footballer and be available and ready to step in when we call him up."

Worsfold said the Swans had changed significantly from the side that drubbed the Bombers by 65 points in last year's elimination final.

Essendon have themselves transformed from a side that appeared to be in crisis when they lost to lowly Carlton in round eight - to leave their record at 2-6.

The Bombers have won seven of their past nine games and Worsfold believes his side are beginning to forge their own identity.

"I think we're a lot more clear and have a lot better understanding about what we need to do to show that to each other," Worsfold said.

"We've probably just narrowed our focus a little bit more rather than changing it and the players have been strong on sticking to the style of footy that we've been working on."