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How young defender will reshape Essendon's backline


David King believes tall defender Zach Reid will take Aaron Francis’ position at Essendon in 2022.

Francis has struggled to make an impact as a defender so far at the Bombers, with Ben Rutten opting to turn him into a forward during the latter stages of the 2021 season.

Reid, who was taken early in the 2020 National Draft, only played one game during his debut season largely as a result of Glandular Fever, but has fully recovered and noticeably bulked up over the off-season.

After seeing a photo of the young Bombers defender alongside forward Harry Jones at pre-seaosn training, King was bullish about Reid’s future, tipping that Francis may struggle to see regular game time next season.

“I was looking at a photo on the Essendon website (of Harry Jones and Zach Reid)," he said on SEN Breakfast.

“I reckon Reid has grown two inches in 12 months, I reckon he’s three or four inches taller than Harrison Jones.

“Reid towers above Jones and I think he’s continued to grow. We’ve seen (Nik) Cox, we’ve seen (Archie) Perkins but we haven’t seen Reid.

“I think it will be hard for (Aaron) Francis to get a game, they have these young stars and they’re in a hurry to get AFL games into them.”

Francis played 15 games in 2021 and remains out of contract heading into the 2022 season.

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