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James Hird back in Melbourne

After 4 months at an exclusive business school in France, Essendon coach James Hird is ready to return to coaching.

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Suspended Essendon coach James Hird is back in Melbourne, and he is keen to return to his club, pending a discussion with fill-in coach Mark ‘Bomber’ Thompson.

“I haven’t caught up with Bomber yet, but we’ll catch up now I’m back and I look forward to getting back to the club as soon as I can,” Hird told media outside his Toorak home this morning.

Hird returned to Australia earlier than expected last night. He was originally expected to be back in Melbourne on July 28.

2011: Bombers coach James Hird and assistant coach Mark Thompson.

2011: Bombers coach James Hird and assistant coach Mark Thompson. Photo: Paul Rovere

Channel Seven reporter Michael Felgate told 3AW that Hird had a “beautiful tan” after his months in France at a business school.

A Federal Court trial between Essendon and Hird against the Australian Sports Anti Doping Agency, launched after the anti-doping body issued show-cause notices to 34 current and former players, is scheduled to begin on August 11.

Hird’s 12 month suspension for his role in the "pharmacologially experimental" Essendon supplements program ends in round 23, and there has been much debate in recent days as to whether his presence in the coaching box might prove a distraction to the team, which has climbed into the top eight despite the pressure on players, who may become subject to anti-doping infraction notices.

James Hird outside his home this morning.

James Hird outside his home this morning. Photo: Eddie Jim

There are now questions surrounding Thompson's future, and whether he will take his expertise elsewhere or stay with the Bombers.

Thompson said on Sunday that the players were his main focus.

"They don't want us to be a distraction, so it's not going to be," he said.

"We are not talking about it, and I have not even decided what I'm doing next year.

"All I know is they didn't want it to be a gap year and it's not. We are still alive.

"We're a chance to play finals and we want to make sure that happens.

Bombers chairman Paul Little has said Thompson "has a clear understanding of the process" that will take place later in the season.

In February, Little said Hird would be welcomed back for the round 23 clash.

The Bombers are likely to seek AFL feedback before any decision is ratified.

Essendon great Tim Watson recently called Hird's future at the club into question. Watson told Channel Seven: “I have said from day one that I hold all those who were in positions of power at Essendon at the time responsible in some ways and they shoulder varying degrees of blame. James has to take responsibility, which he did on day one.

“I think this will become messier for him and the Essendon Football Club the longer it goes on and, in particular, if infraction notices are handed to players.”

- with staff reporters