‘Mental damage’ holding Bomber back

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AFL: Essendon’s number 6 draft pick from 2015, Aaron Francis, has kicked one of the goals of the year in the VFL against Werribee.

Brent Stanton hopes to get back playing next year. Picture: Michael Klein

BANNED Essendon veteran Brent Stanton says the “mental damage” of the past four years is holding him back from deciding whether to play next year.

The 30-year-old midfielder believes teammate Jobe Watson — currently training as a barista in New York City — could be in the same boat.

“I think he is very similar to myself,” Stanton told Channel Seven’s Game Day.

“I think if he plays football, he’ll play at the Essendon Football Club, but it’s the same mental damage … to say look, my time might be up not because of my talent, not because of my body, just because of my head.

“I know he is enjoying himself over in New York at the moment but he was training probably the hardest he has ever trained up until he did leave.”

Stanton will look to make a decision on his future after a family holiday in July.

“I’ve still got a decision to make over the next three or four months … mentally is the biggest challenge, obviously you sit back and you wonder if you’ve still got it or you still want to contribute to the team, that’s not the issue, that long period of time is something you really got to get over and the circumstances play a part as well.”

Essendon remains hopeful of re-signing banned Bombers Watson, Michael Hurley and Michael Hibberd despite Melbourne showing interest in the attacking defender.

AFL: Mark Thompson feels Essendon have given up on their season, and are playing a style of footy that can’t win games.

Stanton holds no grudges despite “a little bit of anger” at not being able to play football.

“There’s always a little bit of anger because I’m not out there playing every week so that’s the toughest part,” he said.

“It is still a football club that you love going to, and (they have) turned over a lot of staff that may have been involved at the time.

“I know I’ve done nothing wrong along with them (Essendon teammates) and the supporters, how good have the supporters been this year.”

Stanton has spent his time away from the game to focus on family and outside business interests.

“It was a long four years and it’s not to say that I don’t have the passion to play again,” he said.

“(But) it has been tiring and I’m feeling really refreshed at the moment and it’s probably the most stress free I’ve been 13 years.

“Most likely I’m going to play next year, it’s just that little bit that takes people a bit longer.”

He all but ruled out playing anywhere else but Essendon next year.

“It’s a tough situation to be involved, I’ve spoken to John (Worsfold) and there seems to be a spot there for me,” he said.

“The guys have been really good in terms of support.

“I bleed red and black, that’s what I know and where I know to go.”

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