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Bombers prepared for fiery AFL clash
Melissa Woods
11:20 AEST Fri Aug 17 2012

Essendon coach James Hird says his side are prepared for some fireworks as their AFL season goes on the line against arch-rivals Carlton at the MCG on Saturday.

The Bombers, clinging to eighth spot on percentage, must win their remaining three games to make a charge at the finals.

But Hird said they were finally back to almost full-strength with Brent Stanton, Paddy Ryder and David Zaharakis in the line-up for the crunch game.

"On paper it's a very strong team, the strongest team almost we can field bar one or two (players)," Hird said on Friday.

"We just feel like we're getting back on par with most other clubs having one or two injuries, rather than 10 injuries, and I think that gives you a good chance in big games like tomorrow."

When the teams met in round four the Bombers got the better of the Blues.

A tackle from Sam Lonergan led to Carlton midfielder Andrew Carrazzo fracturing his shoulder blade, and Marc Murphy said he would remember the tackle when the clubs met next.

Hird said if there was any physical retribution from the 11th-placed Blues his side could handle it.

"That's up to them whether they want to put the fireworks on the table," he said.

"We want to go out and play the game and play some really good football.

"We think we've got some good hard footballers, and if they want to take on Sam Lonergan, then good luck to them.

"He's as tough as there is on the football field and he can certainly look after himself.

"If that's what they're after, then good luck."

The Bombers, who have lost their past four games and five of their last six, believe this pressure game will hold them in good stead for the finals.

"Until you get put in a position where there is pressure and expectation, it's very hard to learn to deal with it," Hird said.

"And this group is a young group, a developing group that's played two finals in four or five years so there hasn't been a lot of expectation or pressure.

"But there is now and we'll see how they deal with it tomorrow."