K rock Football

Bombers star closes down trade talk

Essendon forward Orazio Fantasia. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

ORAZIO Fantasia has delivered a double dose of good news for Essendon fans, declaring himself fit for their sudden-death AFL final against West Coast while shutting down talk of an imminent return home to South Australia.

Fantasia has been battling soreness for months and will undergo surgery at the end of the season to repair torn cartilage in his hip.

With the Bombers having already secured a top-eight finish, the livewire forward was rested for their round-23 clash with Collingwood.

Along with skipper Dyson Heppell, Fantasia has benefited from a rest and looks certain to make the trip to Perth for Thursday’s week elimination final.

“I was able to get a good block of training in which I haven’t had for a while,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s definitely affected my speed and change of direction and my ability to work up and down the ground, which is something that’s my strength, really.

“It’s definitely frustrating because you put high expectations on yourself.

“I’ve focused a lot more on just setting up my teammates and being a real leader out there, and I feel like that part of my game has been able to step up to a new level.”

Fantasia and Heppell look set to be among at least four inclusions for the Bombers with Cale Hooker (illness) and Jake Stringer (hamstring) also poised to return.

Key defender Michael Hurley remains in doubt after partially dislocating his shoulder during the loss to the Magpies.

Reports swirled last month that Fantasia was keen to leave Victoria at the end of the season and would seek a trade.

But the 23-year-old, who is contracted until the end of 2021, is adamant a return home is not on his radar anytime soon.

“My family are from there, but I’m really, really happy here,” he said.

“Unless something massive changed, I couldn’t see it happening.

“Honestly, I was a bit shocked by it all and didn’t see it coming. We were in a meeting, and it came out and it sort of rattled me.

“I spoke to my family and said ‘nothing’s happening, don’t listen’ … it probably affected them more than it did me.”

© AAP 2019