Essendon insist Jobe Watson’s future won’t be decided until after the season, but a call on fellow AFL veteran Brent Stanton could come sooner.
A consistent performer throughout his 252-game career, Stanton has struggled in his return to senior football after serving a doping ban last season with 33 other past and present Bombers.
The 31-year-old has languished in the VFL for much of the season, with his last senior appearance coming in round 11.
Coach John Worsfold has confirmed Stanton is in ongoing discussions with the club about his future and an announcement could be made before the end of the season.
“It’s possible if we come to a decision before the end of the season, and that will just be the ongoing discussions with Brent (about) how he’s feeling and where we’re at,” Worsfold said on Wednesday.
“We’ll be really open and honest in terms of what his role may be at the club next year and how he’s feeling.
“If we get to that decision before the end of the season we’ll certainly announce that but I can’t say that it will (definitely) happen.”
With 10th-placed Essendon still in the race to make the finals, Worsfold said former skipper Watson remained on track to play out the season before making a call on his future.
The 32-year-old faced scrutiny for his poor performance during Essendon’s loss to the Western Bulldogs, with some pundits suggesting the game has passed him by.
While several high-profile veterans have recently confirmed their retirement plans ahead of season’s end, Worsfold didn’t expect Watson to map out his own farewell game.
“Hopefully not, because you can’t plan a farewell game in the finals, and that’s our aim,” Worsfold said.
“He hasn’t been best on ground every week but he hasn’t been poor. I’ve been pretty happy with the way Jobe’s bounced back to footy this year considering where he’s come from.”
Essendon must win every remaining game, including Saturday’s meeting with 17th-placed Carlton, in order to scrape into the top eight.
The long rivalry between the clubs, and the fact Carlton beat Essendon earlier in the season, will add extra intrigue to what Worsfold described as a “critical” match at the MCG.