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Winless Bombers chase win against Crows

Stand-in Essendon coach Blake Caracella is confident the Bombers are on the right track as they attempt to avoid going 0-4 for the first time since 1967.

Caracella, a star in Essendon’s last premiership back in 2000, will fill-in for Ben Rutten against Adelaide on Sunday after the Bombers coach was forced into the AFL’s coronavirus protocols.

The Crows will head to Marvel Stadium buoyed by an after-the-siren win over arch-rivals Port Adelaide last week.

Making matters harder for the Bombers is star Jake Stringer being ruled out of the match with a hamstring issue, continuing his injury-plagued start to the season.

James Stewart (calf) and Tom Cutler (virus protocols) are also out, while Alec Waterman, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Will Snelling return to the side.

Caracella is optimistic Essendon can turn their season around after a difficult opening three games against Geelong, the Brisbane Lions and Melbourne.

It has been a brutal reality check for the Bombers after they played finals last year and some experts tipped them to rise into premiership contention.

“We’ve had three big games so far, all top-four teams from last year, but apart from the Geelong game we’ve been competitive,” Caracella told reporters.

“We’ve been patchy with our form but I know we’re getting better.

“We know we’re a really young team with Zach Merrett, Kyle Langford and Michael Hurley out, but we’re growing.”

Adelaide will bring back former captain Taylor Walker after serving his six-game ban for making a racist comment about a SANFL opposition player last year.

The Crows’ social media team excitedly welcomed back the veteran forward with a jubilant post this week, something Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks called “disappointing”.

“We’re people, people make mistakes but that was a big miss,” Nicks said.

Walker comes straight back into the line-up without any match practice since last year, but Nicks believes the 31-year-old is fit enough.

“To have Tex back into that forward line for us, on a game day, it’s about the experience ahead of the ball,” Nicks said.

“He can’t have done any more from a fitness point of view other than playing games.”

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