Footscray coach Ashley Hansen says his side will prepare as normal for their third clash in two months with Essendon on Saturday.

In an unusual scenario, the Dogs will take on the Bombers in the VFL semi final for the third time in six weeks after two late home and away season clashes.

Hansen said that despite now having a great knowledge of the side, the Dogs will prepare as they always do for the clash.

“It’s a unique position to be in but nothing changes in our preparation.

“It has served us well all year, the players enjoy the normality of routine for a match so we will be well prepared to take them on again.”

The Bulldogs welcome back nine players to the named squad, including eight AFL-listed players who Hansen expects will rise to the occasion of finals football.

“It’s great for the players coming back in to experience finals football and also give themselves the opportunity to build form and be available for AFL selection in the coming weeks.

“They intensity and demands of a final are difficult to replicate in training or during the home and away season so it’s a fantastic opportunity for a young group.”

The Dogs were without Tom Campbell and Tom Boyd last week after being late withdrawals, with the pair to return on Saturday alongside Zaine Cordy who comes down from the AFL side.

Hansen says the acquisition of three key position players should be a big boost for the side.

“To have a ruckman like Campbell give us first use and Boyd up forward who has been really influential over the past six weeks is great for the side.

“Zaine has had a taste of AFL football over the past two weeks which will only aid his development and performances at VFL level.”

Nathan Hrovat and Toby McLean also return after injuries have kept the pair out of the side.

Hansen said the pair’s flexibility could bring an ‘x factor’ to the match.

“Both certainly are exciting players that have the ability to bring others into the game, but also influence themselves through their skill and game sense.

“Their flexibility to play multiple roles will also add to the strength of our squad.”