Hird s return sparks coaching questions

Essendon icon Tim Watson wants James Hird to return to the Bombers, but not in a coaching capacity until the season ends.

Hird arrived in Melbourne late on Tuesday night after embarking on a study tour in France.

He is serving a 12-month ban for his part in the Bombers' 2012 supplements program.

Hird will be free to return to the coaches box for Essendon's round-23 clash with Carlton on the last weekend in August.

The Bombers are yet to make a call on what role, if any, Hird will have in the 2014 season.

Hird fronted the media yesterday morning, saying he couldn't wait to get back to Essendon following his four-month sojourn in Europe.

Hird said he would like to return this season, but was yet to speak to his interim replacement Mark Thompson.

"But we'll catch up now I'm back, and I look forward to getting back to the club as soon as I can," he said.

Essendon are enjoying a purple patch under Thompson, an impressive three-match winning streak starting amid the club's court stoush with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

Essendon chairman Paul Little has previously declared Hird will coach Essendon in 2015.

Watson told Channel 7 Hird should let Thompson steer the ship this season.

"He can return to the club (this season), but not as a coach or on the coaching panel," Watson said. "He can still be at the club every day - working on list management, planning for next year.

"The 2014 team has become Bomber's (Thompson's) team. The team deserves to see it through together without the possibility, and probability, of more distractions."

Injured forward Joe Daniher, also speaking on Channel 7, said it was up to the powers that be to decide whether Hird returned to coaching this year.

"For us players, it'll be good to catch up with him," he said.

The seventh-placed Bombers have a bye this weekend.

A Federal Court trial between Essendon and Hird against ASADA, launched after the anti- doping body issued show-cause notices to 34 current and former players, is scheduled to begin in August.

"… I look forward to getting back to the club as soon as I can."" *James Hird *

Australian Associated Press

AAP

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