WEST Coast coach Adam Simpson says next week's bye could scarcely have come at a better time for his team, with its last two recognised key defenders under injury clouds after Friday night's win over Richmond.
Will Schofield and Jeremy McGovern have helped hold the Eagles' defence together this year after senior talls Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown went down early with season-ending knee injuries.
Schofield left the ground near the end of the Eagles' 20-point victory over Richmond, while McGovern carried a badly corked thigh into the game and came off briefly for treatment midway through the third quarter.
Simpson told reporters on Friday night that Schofield had suffered a glute injury, but he was not sure how serious it was.
"(He was) not good enough to come back on. I couldn't even tell you how long you miss with a glute," Simpson said.
With help from their fellow defenders, Schofield and McGovern were able to keep Richmond key forwards Jack Riewoldt, Ben Griffiths and Tyrone Vickery to a total of four goals.
Simpson praised McGovern's effort to play with injury, but said he would need to rest over the bye.
"He was really keen to play this week, I think he's going to be a big-game player for us," he said.
"But his body is a bit banged up, he's going to enjoy the break.
"He's been carrying the load along with 'Schoey' with our talls and he's finding a way to get up most weeks, but it was touch and go there for a while.
"Two six-day breaks, a couple of travels in there, so he's got to manage himself really well in the next two weeks."
Jamie Cripps was substituted out of Friday night's game at the start of the last quarter, with Simpson confirming he had suffered a corked right thigh.
"He looked a bit sore all day," the coach said.
The Eagles will head into their round 13 bye with a 9-3 record and a League-high percentage of 153.5 that has them second on the ladder (although the Sydney Swans are 9-2 and have the bye this weekend).
Simpson said neither he nor his players were surprised by their strong start to the season, but stressed their only focus at this stage was improving on the 11 wins they had in 2014.
"We've finished off a good block, we're still developing and we've still got some improvement to go and we're going to get exposed at some stage and we're going to learn some valuable lessons as we go," Simpson said.
"But we just want to improve and keep developing our list.
"Until we get past those 11 [wins], I'll start worrying about finals once we qualify, I suppose."