Bombers' Dyson Heppell set for AFL return

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell is poised to return from two weeks on the sideline to lead the Bombers against AFL form team Sydney.

DYSON HEPPELL of the Bombers.
DYSON HEPPELL of the Bombers. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Essendon are set to regain captain Dyson Heppell for their AFL clash with Sydney at the SCG.

Heppell was a late withdrawal ahead of the Bombers' round two loss to Port Adelaide with a back spasm and also missed Saturday's big win over St Kilda.

But coach Ben Rutten expected the 28-year-old to be ready to face the Swans on Thursday.

"Yeah he is (available). So he's been improving all the time, he'll train today and if he gets through that fine, he'll be available for selection," Rutten told reporters on Tuesday.

"If he plays, he'll play AFL."

Heppell could be a straight swap for dashing defender Mason Redman, who was substituted off against St Kilda with hamstring tightness.

Rutten said Redman avoided a hamstring tear but Essendon would see how he pulled up.

Essendon face a stern task against Sydney, who are 3-0 and coming off a brilliant win over reigning premiers Richmond.

The Bombers will plan for Sydney superstar Lance Franklin to play after he was rested against the Tigers but are wary of the Swans' multi-pronged attack.

"What we're seeing more and more with Sydney ... is that they're not a one-dimensional footy club," Rutten said.

"They're not solely reliant on Buddy playing to be a good team.

"So we'll certainly pay the respect that we need to, to Buddy, but understand that there's a bigger job at hand."

Rutten said Essendon would resist the temptation to swing Cale Hooker into defence after the versatile tall booted five goals against St Kilda, while Peter Wright will continue to play in the ruck.

The Bombers are still missing Dylan Shiel, Jye Caldwell and Sam Draper but Rutten relished the work of Essendon's depth, especially youngsters Harrison Jones and Nik Cox.

"It's disappointing when you get injuries but it does give an opportunity to guys and we'll be better for that, there's no doubt about that," Rutten said.

"It's been great - guys have stood up."