Senior Essendon official Neil Craig is certain that James Hird will be the Bombers’ senior coach next season.

Senior Essendon official Neil Craig is adamant that James Hird will be their AFL senior coach next season.

Hird’s future in the role appeared tenuous at the start of this month after he broke ranks with the club over their unsuccessful joint Federal Court actions.

There was widespread speculation at the time that Essendon were on the verge of sacking Hird because he was going ahead with an appeal against the verdict.

But on October 6, the Bombers released a statement saying they would retain their existing football structure “in the immediate term”.

Chairman Paul Little added it would be “potentially reckless” for the club to make significant decisions while Hird went ahead with his Federal Court appeal and ASADA issued amended show cause notices against current and past Essendon players.

But on Wednesday night, Craig was much more definitive about Hird’s future at Essendon.

“Clearly James Hird is and will be the senior coach of Essendon for 2015,” Craig told SEN.

Craig, who is Essendon’s head of coaching development and strategy, was speaking after the club announced three-time premiership player Mark Harvey was returning as an assistant coach under Hird.

That appointment completes their match-day coaching staff.

But Mark Thompson’s AFL future remains unclear.

Thompson had a successful stint as interim Essendon coach this season while Hird served a 12-month AFL suspension.

Thompson made it clear at Essendon’s best and fairest function that he did not want to return to a senior assistant role.

He is back from an overseas holiday and Craig said Thompson had spoken to Little and chief executive Xavier Campbell.

Craig was hopeful of a decision in the next few days.

“Those discussions need to take their time, because it’s really important for Mark if he wants to stay in footy … and at Essendon, that he has what I would call a meaningful job, that gives him energy and passion to get out of bed in the morning,” Craig said.

Also on Wednesday, Essendon delisted utility Kyle Hardingham.

He was the most notable name among four players who are leaving the Bombers.

Johnny Rayner and Sean Gregory did not make their senior debuts and it was well-known that free agent Leroy Jetta would not stay at Essendon.