BRAD Sheppard's premiership dream is over for 2018 after scans revealed tendon damage to the dependable West Coast defender's left hamstring.
Sheppard, who was the Eagles' player of the finals last time they made it to the Grand Final three years ago, is facing a two- to three-month rehabilitation period.
The shattering blow ends Sheppard's run of 95 consecutive games since the end of 2014, and opens the door for experienced backman Will Schofield to receive a finals lifeline.
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Eagles coach Adam Simpson revealed that telling Schofield he was dropped from the qualifying final team which defeated Collingwood by 16 points was the most difficult task he has faced in his five seasons at the club.
Sheppard went down near the 20-minute mark of the opening term when he soccered a loose ball off the ground and overextended at full pace after a slight push from Pies young gun Jordan De Goey.
He was in severe pain on the bench and clearly distressed at the prospect of his season being over.
"You could see the look in his eye, unfortunately I think he might have known before we did it was pretty significant," Simpson told Channel Seven.
"He's been good, I saw him today.
"He'll be there to support the boys. He's got some teammates around him going through similar issues, so he'll be OK."
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Sheppard joins fellow first-choice teammates Nic Naitanui (knee) and Andrew Gaff (suspension) on the sidelines for the rest of the season, with the club still deciding if he will undergo surgery.
The 27-year-old will be a huge loss given his underrated ability to lock down on the opposition's most dangerous small forward with a minimum of fuss, and provide valuable rebound.
That role fell to third-year backman Tom Cole for the majority of the victory over the Pies.
While versatile 174-gamer Schofield appears the most likely replacement for Sheppard, young half-back Jackson Nelson and first-year tall Oscar Allen could also be in the selection frame for the home preliminary final on Saturday week.
"We've got to look at all of our options and see who we're playing and see what we need to do, but Will's been really good for us all season and I'd say he'd be next in line," Simpson said.
"But we need to see what's happening with the team we're playing."
The Eagles will face either Hawthorn or Melbourne after their cutthroat semi-final on Friday night.