Essendon are certain to play hard ball as ruck/forward Paddy Ryder seeks to leave the embattled AFL club.

Port Adelaide are in the box seat to sign Paddy Ryder if they can secure an AFL trade for Essendon’s No.1 ruckman.

He flew out of Adelaide on Friday afternoon after the Power spent three days hosting Ryder and his young family.

Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney have also expressed interest in signing the 26-year-old.

But Ryder and his management are understood to have indicated that Port is his preferred destination.

His departure would be a massive blow to the Bombers, who continue to reel from their supplements scandal.

Ryder’s management told Essendon last Friday he definitely wanted to leave the club.

That was the same day the club lost their Federal Court case against the joint ASADA-AFL investigation into Essendon’s 2012 supplements program.

Ryder is expected to confirm early next week that he wants to go to the Power.

But that is only the first step, as he is under contract at Essendon, and it will be a slow process.

There has been speculation that Ryder might try to activate a new clause in the standard AFL players’ contract, allowing him to cite a breach of contract by the club and leave as a restricted free agent.

Essendon are certain to play hard ball, having made it clear that Ryder is a required player.

Ryder would be a crucial addition to Port’s list after they nearly reached the grand final this season.

The Power relied on ruckman Matthew Lobbe to carry them in 2014 and Ryder is also dangerous as a tall forward.