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Eagles still targeting JLT return for Nic Nat

Eagles hope Nic Nat will feature in the JLT - AFL,West Coast Eagles,Injuries,Nic Naitanui,William Rioli,Josh J Kennedy,Liam Duggan,Jack Petruccelle
Eagles hope Nic Nat will feature in the JLT

WEST Coast is set to ramp up Nic Naitanui's training workload to see how the star ruckman's body responds ahead of a targeted comeback in the club's final JLT Community Series clash. 

Naitanui's progress 18 months after his knee reconstruction has been the subject of widespread speculation as his scheduled return date and the season-opening blockbuster against Sydney edge closer.

The 201cm big man was never in consideration for Sunday's pre-season hit-out against Port Adelaide but the Eagles are aiming to have him back in action to take on Fremantle in their last warm-up match on March 11. 

"Nic's had a really good couple of weeks from a conditioning point-of-view, he's doing more and more full training with the main group," general manager of football operations Craig Vozzo told

"The aim is still we get some game minutes into him by JLT (game) two.

"He'll do more and more main training with the main group in the next few weeks and we do match-sim as part of that … so Nic will participate in that and we'll see what response we get as he does each phase of training.

"That will govern how many minutes he gets later in the pre-season, in terms of the JLT and build-up to the year."

Naitanui was briefly sighted at Domain Stadium on Wednesday morning but returned inside after warm-up and didn't train with the main group.

Electric small forward Willie Rioli wasn't on the track after copping a knee knock making his Eagles debut in AFLX last Thursday and will miss the Power clash.

"He pulled up a bit sore after the first (AFLX) game, so on medical advice we didn't take any risk in the second game," Vozzo said.

"He's tracking well. All the testing that he's been doing and clinical responses have been good, the doctors are quite happy.

"But he'll have a light week this week, which means he'll miss the first JLT game but we're hoping he'll be well-and-truly available for the next game."

AFLX captain Liam Duggan didn't take part in Wednesday's session, while star spearhead Josh Kennedy continued his ankle rehabilitation indoors.

The dual Coleman medallist is back running strongly and hasn't been ruled out of the Eagles' final JLT match or round one, but doesn't have a clear return date.

"It really depends on each phase of his progress through his conditioning and so far, so good," Vozzo said.

Former club champion Eric Mackenzie is out of a moon boot after a setback with his toe however the key defender will miss the start of the 2018 campaign, also without a clear timeframe on his return.

Young speedster Jack Petruccelle dislocated a finger during AFLX and will be sidelined from full training for about a month, while injury-plagued tall forward Matt Allen (hip flexor) will be on light duties for up to two weeks.

Allen ran laps alongside skipper Shannon Hurn, who left the track early, on Wednesday.

In better news, West Perth product Oscar Allen is out his rehab phase after arriving at the club with a tibia stress fracture, although his start to the season is expected to be delayed.