NIC NAITANUI still isn't ruling out a return to football this season and has been given the green light to push himself at West Coast training by American knee expert Bill Knowles.
Naitanui has returned from an intensive two-week camp run by world renowned specialist Knowles and is ready to ramp up his comeback bid from an ACL reconstruction.
"(He was) just telling me how strong my knee is and not to be afraid to push it and try different things out," Naitanui told Channel Seven after arriving back in Perth.
Whether the spring-heeled big man returns this year won't be dictated by the Eagles' finals hopes, which took a severe hit after the final-quarter meltdown against Collingwood on Sunday.
"It won't have a real big influence on whether I play or not, it's just more a fact of if my body's right or not," Naitanui said.
"I don't want to come back and still be a bit sore or be at any risk to hurt myself again, because I obviously know how long a process it is with a knee.
"I'd hate to start all over again just for the sake of coming back too soon.
"If I'm right I'll put my hand up, but if not I'm happy to wait as well."
Naitanui, who hasn't played since round 22 last season, raised hopes of a comeback after showing off his agility and athleticism in a series of social media posts filmed while he was being put through his paces by Knowles.
He was absent at Eagles training on Tuesday in the 30 minutes open to media, and his path forward will be mapped out with the club this week.
"We'll sit down with Nic this week and see how he went with the recovery," coach Adam Simpson told 6PR.
"He looked really good (in the US). It just makes you realise what he's capable of and what's really exciting for us in the future.
"If we can get him and Scott (Lycett) up and going it makes everyone walk a bit taller.
"Whether he comes back this year or not will be up to where Nic's at, not where the team's at'.
Lycett was on the track on Tuesday, training with the group of Eagles who played for East Perth on Saturday.
He has been battling shoulder soreness after his AFL comeback from surgery in round 16, but West Coast hasn't put a line through the 24-year-old.
Makeshift ruckmen Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie were thrashed by Magpies star Brodie Grundy on Sunday, losing hit-outs 42-31, and the Eagles' engine room continues to be their Achilles heel.
Collingwood won the clearance battle by eight – a week after Fremantle dominated stoppages 40-28 in the Western Derby.
The blowtorch is on the Eagles, who have slipped to ninth on the ladder, and Simpson ahead of a clash with bottom-placed Brisbane Lions this Sunday.
But the coach denied he was feeling any extra pressure with five rounds to go and finals hopes fading.
"No, it's part of the job. Wins and losses, it's part of the senior job, so not at all," Simpson said.
"With our percentage and where we sit I'd say we have to win almost every game, so the challenge is in front of us."