A red-hot Essendon are set for an Anzac Day boost with David Zaharakis and Devon Smith expected to return for the marquee AFL clash with Collingwood.
The stage is set for a hotly anticipated MCG showdown after the Bombers had smashed North Melbourne by 58 points on Good Friday to join the Magpies in the top eight.
Bolstered by the surprise late inclusion of Joe Daniher, the Bombers ran riot at Marvel Stadium to claim a comprehensive 17.14 (116) to 7.16 (58) victory.
Daniher had been expected to return through the VFL but was brought in hours before the game as a replacement for the injured Zac Clarke.
Essendon are set to be fined up to $20,000, given Daniher hadn't been in the Bombers' initial 22 or one of four emergencies listed for the match.
Zaharakis was another late withdrawal, having suffered a cut in his knee that became infected earlier in the week, while reigning best and fairest Smith was held out of the game to try to help manage a chronic knee problem.
But in a boost for the Bombers' hopes of redemption after losing last year's game by 52 points, both players are expected to be available on Anzac Day.
"Zaharakis should be okay," coach John Worsfold told reporters.
"He had a run today as well and just couldn't quite hit top speed. Possibly if this game was tomorrow, he might have been right.
"And Devon's good. Today was part of his overall plan around the workload he's had. He trained this morning and moved well."
The return of the key pair leaves the Bombers with no shortage of midfield options after a supreme performance against the Kangaroos led by star recruit Dylan Shiel.
"He hasn't put a foot wrong," Worsfold said.
"His professionalism, leadership, preparation ... we know he's talented but he's now really starting to gel with that midfield group."
Australian Associated Press