Essendon's famous four: (from left) Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris Daniher with legendary coach Kevin Sheedy (centre) in 2009.

Essendon's famous four: (from left) Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris Daniher with legendary coach Kevin Sheedy (centre) in 2009. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

Essendon has targeted Neale Daniher as it sets about the mammoth task of rebuilding the devastated football club.

The Bombers' acting chief executive, Ray Gunston, has held talks with the West Coast football boss who has in turn indicated a long-term plan to return to live in Melbourne.

With Essendon still reeling from last week's unprecedented sanctions handed down by the AFL, the club is moving into the trade period without a senior football department chief and is unlikely to reinstall the suspended Danny Corcoran in the senior football role.

West Coast in turn has told Daniher it would not hold him to his Eagles contract should he decide to return home to lead the clean-up operation at his old club.

Essendon has also been in touch with former Collingwood football chief Geoff Walsh.

The internal view at Essendon is that an influential football department head should be the top priority as it searches also for a replacement for banned senior coach James Hird, with genuine doubt over whether Mark Thompson would accept or prove acceptable as stand-in coach.

Paul Roos is now out of contention as he looks certain to be announced as Melbourne's new coach in coming days.

Hird and his chairman, Paul Little, reached a deal that the coach would be given a two-year contract extension should he agree to stand down for a year. Although Hird is free to return to coaching in the final round of 2014 that appears unlikely with an interim coach expected to remain in the job for 2014 at least.

The club is also facing a fresh legal claim with former high-performance boss Dean Robinson set to lodge a breach-of-duty claim against Essendon in the Supreme Court as early as Tuesday.

Robinson will claim the club failed to meet its employment agreement with him in standing him down without reason while continuing to employ other key players involved in the experimental drugs program run over the 2012 season. He has been interviewed several times by ASADA and the AFL and also faces scrutiny over his role in the ongoing joint investigation into Gold Coast's Nathan Bock.

The former fitness boss, who launched his first salvo against Essendon in a paid interview on the Seven Network in late July, was removed on February 5 and banned from having any contact with Essendon staffers, some of whom could give evidence in the case being run by employment law experts Rachel Doyle and Mark Irving.

Fairfax media understands the AFL could also be implicated in the decision to stand down Robinson, who quit the club shortly before speaking out on Channel Seven when he revealed he came close to taking his own life as a result of the trauma he had suffered.

Daniher did not return calls on Monday but is believed to have already closed the door on a potential return to senior coaching, despite one view at Essendon that he could fill in for Hird for one season.

Daniher, sacked by Melbourne in the middle of 2007, coached that club for almost 10 years, taking the Demons into the finals six times, including the 2000 grand final.

He went to West Coast in 2008 after that club's horror 2007, which saw the Eagles at the centre of a series of drug scandals, mainly involving Ben Cousins. West Coast was also threatened with the loss of premiership points, although it was ultimately not punished by the AFL Commission, which led an investigation of the club.

West Coast conducted its own internal review and Daniher played a key role in the clean-up operation.

His daughters are living in Melbourne and Daniher has told friends he planned to return from Perth at some stage.