Star Essendon midfielder David Zaharakis says under-fire coach John Worsfold is still the man to return the Bombers to the AFL finals.
Zaharakis will play his 200th AFL game when Essendon host GWS at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night, the milestone coinciding with a crucial match for 10th-placed Bombers as they strive to stay in touch with the top eight.
"We are up against a good side in GWS who are obviously sitting in the top four and they're a side who we didn't have a good performance against earlier in the year so hopefully we can rectify that," the 29-year-old said.
"We are still in touch with the top eight but we need to keep progressing toward that to reach our goal of playing finals."
The teams squared off in round one with the Bombers crashing to a 72-point defeat but Zaharakis felt plenty had changed since that match.
"We've been beaten at times (this season) I don't think we've put a performance out like we did in round one so it's not something we've really spoken about."
While frustrated by his team's inconsistency, Zaharakis didn't believe the coach's job should be on the line and felt Worsfold's own steadiness was a plus.
"His strength is that his demeanour doesn't change - he flatlines every week and it's just about the process whether we win or lose and it's great the players see that consistency," he said.
He said Worsfold deserved more time and believed his early years at the club were compromised by the doping suspension that decimated their list in 2016.
"It's probably only the last year and a half that he's been able to establish his group," Zaharakis said.
"From the start of 2018, that's when the group that he moulded and put together has really started to come together."
But he admitted the felt the "clock ticking" on his career in terms of premiership prospects.
"There's a few older guys who have played in four finals and haven't won one and it's about time.
"I don't feel it's far away - we just need to get some consistency as our best footy competes with the best."
Australian Associated Press