Essendon accept Zach Merrett ban but welcome back Conor McKenna

Essendon star Zach Merrett will miss Friday's blockbuster with Collingwood, after the club accepted the one match sanction handed down by the match review for striking.

The Bombers will, however, be boosted by the return of Conor McKenna after the AFL gave the Irishman a one match suspension following his COVID-19 related breach. The suspension is backdated and was served when McKenna sat out Essendon's narrow loss to Carlton on Saturday.

While McKenna's return will be welcomed at Windy Hill, the loss of Merrett is likely to be keenly felt at the MCG on Friday night, as the Bombers look to bounce back from a lacklustre outing against the Blues.

Merrett's strike on Jack Silvagni, was graded by Michael Christian as careless conduct, with Carlton's medical report leaving the Match Review Officer with little choice but to assess the impact as 'high' despite its apparent innocuous nature.

Silvagni spent Saturday night in hospital with a bruised lung and a fractured rib.