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Worsfold says AFL finals will be tough

AAP logoAAP 22/11/2016 Roger Vaughan

Essendon coach John Worsfold concedes making the AFL finals will be tough next year as they try to rally from their disastrous season.

While the Bombers are confident about an immediate rebound, Worsfold said the competition for the top eight will be particularly fierce.

Essendon's doping bans meant they finished last for the first time since 1933 and they incurred a whopping financial hit for the year of $9.8 million.

"We'd love to play finals next year ... it's going to be tough to achieve," Worsfold said.

"If you look at this year's top eight, it looks pretty sound.

"I've read about the Tigers, Bucks (coach Nathan Buckley) at Collingwood, Gold Coast, Melbourne and the Saints on the march, Carlton took big steps forward this year - all those teams are like us.

"It's all in our hands."

One of the big challenges for Essendon is integrating their 10 players returning from bans into the squad.

On Tuesday, Worsfold spoke about how Jobe Watson was struggling after losing his Brownlow Medal.

More broadly, the Bombers are a long way off deciding what their best 22 looks like.

Worsfold noted that 29 of their players had not been on the same team.

"It's pretty new territory for us - which is exciting, really exciting," Worsfold said.

"But overall, it feels like a footy club now.

"We go into this year with a mature list, but ... not a list that's played together.

"It's a pretty unique situation.

"We have no form going into next year."

Worsfold sees a five-year window where Essendon will now have a strong list.

Club chairman Lindsay Tanner added the club must look forward after their supplements debacle.

"It's now in our grasp - we're through all the processes that are externally-driven (and) it's now within our grasp to meet those challenges," Tanner said.

The Essendon team will have a four-day camp next week at HMAS Cerberus and one of the goals will be for the players to know each other better.

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