BROWNLOW medallist Jobe Watson is set to play his first game for the year in Wangaratta.
The Essendon skipper says he is hoping to be available for Saturday’s NAB Cup match against Richmond at Norm Minns Oval after missing round 1 of the preseason competition with a knee injury.
“I would be really keen to play, we probably have only got two games left before the season opener against Adelaide,” Watson said.
“I will be pushing for selection for that match.
“The knee feels really good and the body feels really good.
“I have been able to do a lot of leg work on it because it was a lateral ligament so as long as I kept straight lines for those early few days then it was fine.”
Watson could be one of three big Essendon inclusions for the twilight game, which by yesterday had sold 8000 tickets, 3000 below its capacity.
Fellow midfielder Ben Howlett and prized father-son draft pick Joe Daniher could also be rushed into the team for the Foxtel televised match, which starts at 5.10pm.
Howlett said he had recovered well from a back complaint, while key position player Daniher, who booted seven goals against the Murray Bushrangers last year, impressed in last week’s intraclub game.
“I am really looking forward to getting into the midfield this week and having a good run around,” Howlett said.
“After missing last week against Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs it has made preseason just a little bit longer for me so I can’t wait to get out there,” Howlett said.
David Zaharakis (quad) and Jason Winderlich (groin) are also pushing for selection.
Essendon, which asked to play in Wangaratta after last year’s abandoned game against St Kilda, arrives in the North East tomorrow.
Players will visit Wangaratta, Myrtleford, Beechworth and Bright as part of Essendon’s community camp, while both Richmond and Essendon will train at Norm Minns Oval on Friday.
Singer Shannon Noll will perform on the ground after the match.
With limited parking, the council is urging fans to travel by bus.
Park and ride services will run from noon until 5pm and will resume at the final siren until 9.30pm.
Gates open at noon, with the Bushrangers to play an intraclub curtain-raiser at 2pm.