Bombers must be ruthless in AFL: Hird
By Sam Lienert
19:28 AEST Thu Aug 9 2012

Essendon coach James Hird has called for a ruthless attitude from his players as their AFL top-eight spot goes on the line against North Melbourne on Sunday.

The Bombers will make at least three changes, with veteran defender Dustin Fletcher, fellow backman Michael Hibberd and key forward Stewart Crameri set to return from injury.

David Hille, Angus Monfries and the untried Brendan Lee were also named in their 25-man squad on Thursday night.

Hird said the side that played against Adelaide last round made a welcome return to form despite losing by four points.

But with the Bombers inside the top eight only by a tiny percentage gap, after losing four of their past five games, they need their best players.

"We need to start getting a pretty ruthless team out there that wants to win and needs to win," Hird told reporters on Thursday.

"If we want to make the finals, it's a really important game to win and play well in.

"Last week, we certainly got our form back, in terms of the guys doing the things we wanted them to do, and we'll go into the game with a fair bit of confidence we can play the way we want to play."

Hird said in the huge losses to Geelong and Hawthorn over the previous two rounds, the Bombers' thirst for the contest and for the game's defensive aspects had dimmed considerably.

But he felt it returned against the Crows, driven as much by the players themselves as the coaching staff.

"You can coach, you can tell them what they need to do but, until players actually want to do it themselves, you can't change too much," Hird said.

"I don't know if it was home truths, but we certainly outlined that if we want to be a forward-of-the-ball team and just attack, then we won't beat the good teams."

The Bombers have lost Jason Winderlich and Ben Howlett to hamstring injuries and dropped defender Tayte Pears, with three more players to be cut from their squad on Friday night.

Patrick Ryder, Brent Stanton and David Zaharakis will all be in contention to return from injury against Carlton on Saturday week.

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