Essendon set for wholesale changes in Demons match

John Salvado
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Essendon team

Essendon coach John Worsfold addresses his men. Pic; Getty
Essendon coach John Worsfold is set to ring in the changes. Pic: Getty

Essendon have done it the toughest of the four teams involved in the Anzac blockbusters, with the Bombers making at least five changes for Sunday's AFL clash with Melbourne.

The 13th-ranked Bombers have rested ruckman Tom Bellchambers and midfielder David Myers, dropped defender Michael Hartley and lost Josh Green and Josh Begley to injury.

Matthew Leuenberger goes in as a straight swap in the ruck for Bellchambers.

Essendon could end up making as many as nine changes from the team thumped by Collingwood on Anzac Day, with their line-up to be finalised on Friday evening.

The Demons may welcome back key-position player Tom McDonald for his first match of the season in an Etihad Stadium clash between two clubs coming off short breaks and heavy losses.

But Melbourne will be without Christian Petracca (finger) and Dean Kent (hamstring).

Carlton have been strengthened by the return of key defender Caleb Marchbank and midfielder Matthew Kennedy as they search for their first win of the season on Friday night against the Western Bulldogs.

But ruckman Matthew Kreuzer will miss at least one more week, even though coach Brendon Bolton insists he has fully recovered from a groin injury.

"He's pretty much right to play. However, as a club, we're going to make a decision not to play him, just because his training has had no continuity," Bolton said.

The Bulldogs welcome back onballer Lachie Hunter from suspension.

Geelong and Sydney will be without their leading goalkickers of the 2018 season for Saturday's clash at GMHBA Stadum - with Dan Menzel (groin) and Lance Franklin (heel) injured.

Menzel has been replaced by Cory Gregson, while spearhead Tom Hawkins returns after missing last weekend's win over Port Adelaide, having suffered back spasms in the warm-up.

Port's week from hell continued on Thursday, when defender Hamish Hartlett suffered a serious knee injury during a routine training drill.

With Lindsay Thomas ruled out due to suspension, the Power brought in Dom Barry and Aidyn Johnson for Saturday's Etihad Stadium clash with North Melbourne.

The high-flying Kangaroos were unable to consider clever forward Shaun Higgins, who was knocked out and forced to undergo lip surgery after receiving a heavy knock from Hawk Ryan Burton last week.

Higgins' place in the side went to young star Luke Davies-Uniacke.

Nick Shipley will create a piece of GWS club history against Brisbane on Saturday when he becomes the the first product of western Sydney to come through the Giants Academy and proceed all the way to AFL level.

But star forward Toby Greene will miss with a foot injury.

The Lions have rested Luke Hodge and dropped Ryan Bastinac.

Adelaide are strengthened by the return of key midfielders Matt Crouch and David Mackay for Saturday night's home clash against Gold Coast but Rory Sloane will miss at least one more week.