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Heppell coy on Bombers captaincy ambitions

AAP logoAAP 7/11/2016 Jason Phelan

Essendon star Dyson Heppell is keeping his leadership aspirations to himself as the Bombers look to move on from AFL's drawn out doping saga.

Heppell was one of 10 players suspended for anti-doping code violations still at Essendon to train with the first to fourth year players at the club's Tullamarine headquarters on Monday.

Incumbent skipper Jobe Watson also returned for the first training session allowed with the rest of the team under the terms of their bans that will end completely by late November.

With Watson yet to make his intentions known with regard to the captaincy, speculation about the club's onfield leader for 2017 is set to drag into the new year.

Coach John Worsfold told reporters on Monday a leadership process would be put in place with a player vote to be held in January.

Brendon Goddard stood in for Watson this season but Heppell is seen as the heir apparent.

"That'll take its due course ... I don't think a decision will be made until next year," Heppell told reporters as he arrived for training.

"Obviously there are plenty of great candidates there and whether or not Jobe still wants to do it ... BJ (Goddard) did a fantastic job last year.

"(We've) got plenty of young leaders coming up as well."

The Bombers struggled in the absence of the banned players finishing bottom with just three wins.

Midfielder Zach Merrett was one of the shining lights of the dark period in the club's history, the 21-year-old winning his first best and fairest award.

Merrett was delighted to train with his returned teammates on Monday and is looking forward to having them back next season with one proviso.

"Not if they take my spot," he joked.

"(But) it will be good to have those guys out there.

"Not only because they're great players but because of their leadership as well.

"They're just full of enthusiasm, which is rubbing off on us younger guys.

"I think everyone's just overjoyed and looking forward to getting into preseason."

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