Essendon coach John Worsfold concedes Jake Stringer’s integration remains a work in progress ahead of the talented utility’s first meeting against his old club the Western Bulldogs.
But the recently re-signed mentor is confident the combined midfield-forward role Stringer has been asked to play will eventually bring out his best.
The 23-year-old endured a messy divorce from the Bulldogs last year, requesting a trade to the Bombers just 12 months after playing a key role in the drought-breaking 2016 premiership side.
Worsfold said Stringer was relaxed ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Etihad Stadium.
“He’s excited about this game, not just because it’s against the Bullies.
“I’m sure there’s that aspect to it, but as a team we were pretty disappointed last week.
“We didn’t play at the level we want to play.
“We want to be united in the way we play this week and Jake’s part of what we want to achieve.”
Stringer has averaged 12.5 disposals, six tackles and three clearances in two outings for Essendon so far.
He impressed on debut in the round one win over Adelaide, but was below his best against Fremantle last week.
He was not alone in that category as the Bombers slumped to a 16-point defeat at Optus Stadium last Saturday night.
“I think Jake’s going OK. We’re really pleased with his attitude and how he’s embracing learning the way we want him to play and his role,” Worsfold said.
“I reckon we ‘re going to see improvement week in, week out over a long period of time from Jake.
“He’s going to do some spectacular stuff at times because that’s the type of player he is, but we want him to just play his role and do the basics consistently for us and be part of the way our team wants to play.”
Worsfold said Orazio Fantasia was a chance to return from a knee injury against the Bulldogs, but the speedy forward could be sent to the VFL to find form after an extended lay-off.
Fit-again David Myers (calf) could be promoted straight into the senior side, though Jayden Laverde (hamstring) will not be considered for AFL duty.
The Bombers believe draftee Matt Guelfi is ready for an AFL call-up, but the Claremont product will have to bide his time in the reserves for at least one more week.