Blues downplay revenge but Bombers ready
By Melissa Woods
14:17 AEST Fri Aug 17 2012

Carlton are downplaying any talk of revenge but Essendon coach James Hird says the Bombers are prepared for fireworks in their must-win AFL clash at the MCG on Saturday.

The season of both teams is on the line and Blues skipper Chris Judd is back from suspension, adding to the spice between the arch-rivals who are duelling to play in the looming finals.

The Bombers are clinging to eighth spot on percentage while the Blues are a win behind, in 11th.

When the teams met in round four a tackle by hard-nosed midfielder Sam Lonergan led to Carlton's 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 Blues his side could handle it.

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

"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."

Carlton assistant coach Mark Riley said on Friday there'd been no talk of revenge this week following on from that 30-point defeat.

"There's a lot of water that's gone under the bridge since round four," Riley said.

"We're about looking forward. They played a physical brand of football and we didn't and our game is physical."

While the Bombers welcome Brent Stanton, Paddy Ryder and David Zaharakis back in the line-up for the crunch game, the Blues regain Judd after four weeks sidelined for his "chicken wing" tackle.

Riley said the skipper had trained very hard during his enforced lay-off, however the team couldn't rely on his presence.

"It's not a magic panacea because if you look at the teams that are playing very good football consistently, there's a synergy with those guys playing together," he said.

"You've got to get the connectivity between the guys."

Riley questioned whether Essendon's midfield would click immediately with the injection of fresh blood through the return of Stanton and Zaharakis.

But Hird said the Bombers drew confidence from being almost at full strength.

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

"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."

The Bombers, who have lost their past four matches, 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."

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