Baby steps as Bombers on the mend

ESSENDON keeps taking two steps back for each step forward in the injury stakes, but the Bombers are anticipating they will have up to five fresh players back for the game against North Melbourne on Sunday.

Nothing will be confirmed until the Dons’ main training session tomorrow, but Dustin Fletcher (shoulder), Stewart Crameri (hamstring), Michael Hibberd (quadriceps), Kyle Reimers (hamstring) and Ricky Dyson (ankle) have good chances of getting up for the crucial game at Etihad Stadium. None played in the four-point loss to Adelaide last weekend.

Angus Monfries (hamstring) also is a chance to play against the Kangaroos, and Brent Stanton (general soreness) is hopeful.

The two hamstring victims from last Sunday’s game, Jason Winderlich and Ben Howlett, are expected to miss the standard three weeks.

They are the latest chapters in the soft-tissue epidemic at Windy Hill this year, which numbers more than 20 separate incidents.

David Zaharakis (quad) and Paddy Ryder (calf) are at least a week away from resuming.

Meanwhile, St Kilda is pondering an infusion of youth for its game against Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday, with Arryn Siposs, Terry Milera, Daniel Markworth, Tom Ledger and Jamie Cripps all in the mix for selection, according to coach Scott Watters. Jason Blake is also likely to be available after recovering from an ankle injury.

The Saints need to win all four remaining games to have a chance of playing finals, but Watters said there could be one or two changes.

”I don’t think I’ll go with exactly the same side,” he said. ”I’d like to get one or two kids who played well [in the VFL] on the weekend in.”

■St Kilda’s Brett Peake has been fined for misconduct for throwing the ball at an umpire in a VFL match last weekend.

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