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Star leaves track early with leg issue as Eagles feel the heat

Highlights: West Coast v Collingwood The Eagles and Magpies clash in the grand final

IMPORTANT midfielder Jack Redden was an early casualty with a leg problem, but West Coast premiership stars Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo and Tom Barrass ramped up their comebacks during a sweltering training session at Lathlain Park on Wednesday.

Redden, who spoke earlier this week about his setback-free summer, was pointing to his right leg as he walked from the track accompanied by a trainer just half-an-hour into the 90-minute hitout.

The 28-year-old disappeared indoors for treatment and re-emerged 20 minutes later before icing just below his knee on the sidelines.

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Teammates including Chris Masten came to check on Redden, who didn't appear in any significant discomfort.

Redden didn't rejoin training but eased concerns by completing a gym session on Wednesday afternoon.

"I think it was just a knock. He's a pretty durable fella, so I can't see it being too serious, but we'll see over the next couple of days and see how it pulls up," teammate Mark Hutchings said.

In promising news, Yeo (toe) and Barrass (foot) completed the entire early-morning session without a hitch.

Two-time John Worsfold medallist Yeo covered plenty of territory during 11-a-side match simulation, while Barrass wrestled and ran with workhorse Jack Darling.

Gun onballer Andrew Gaff was a ball magnet dipping into gaps to link-up play, while skipper Shannon Hurn was impassable across half-back.

A lean-looking McGovern (ribs) wore a red hat to signal he was not to be touched and was involved briefly before breaking away to churn out more kilometres.  

Surprise packet Jack Petruccelle continued to turn heads in his second pre-season, and the speedster was in everything playing as a high half-forward alongside Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan.

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Petruccelle, who kicked two goals in three games last year, looks likely to receive first crack at helping to replace retired sharpshooter Mark LeCras and valuable small forward Jamie Cripps (toe) during the JLT Community Series.

Premiership half-forward Daniel Venables' spot could also be up for grabs, with the 20-year-old restricted to individual running followed by skills work with draftee Bailey Williams on Wednesday.

The Eagles' forward line setup looms as coach Adam Simpson's biggest headache and several contenders are currently on modified programs.

Dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy (shoulder) is being scaled back after a heavy running workload and wasn't sighted at Lathlain but is expected to be fine for at least one JLT appearance.

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Exciting talls Jarrod Brander and competitive tall Oscar Allen were both stationed in attack in Kennedy's absence.

The onus is on Rioli and Ryan to lift their leadership in an inexperienced forward line, and Ryan offered strong feedback after Brander turned over a stab kick that should have gone long to Darling inside 50.

Other potential Cripps and LeCras replacements in Jake Waterman (ankle) and goalsneak Jarrod Cameron (foot) were restricted to straight-line running on the secondary MCG-sized oval.

Matt Allen, hoping to make his debut in his fourth season on the list in 2019, would previously have been a forward option but has trimmed down and is training with the midfield group after having an impact there in the WAFL last year.

 

Hutchings expected fierce competition for engine room spots this season and the tagger has improved his running to stay ahead of the next wave of midfielders.

The 27-year-old, who triggered a contract for 2019 after a career-best campaign, finished second behind recruit Josh Smith in a recent Yo-Yo test and is determined as ever to nail down a spot.

"I wouldn't say I've made it, but premiership player has a nice ring to it, that's for sure," Hutchings said after playing a key role shutting down Steele Sidebottom in the Grand Final.

"I think if I play my best then I'll be in the team, but it's not entirely up to me – it's up to the coaches.  

"What I've done my whole career, since I've been seven or eight is try my best, every training session and every game.

"Being a premiership player, that hasn't changed for me and will never change."

Meanwhile, West Coast's status as the AFL's financial powerhouse has been confirmed after a financial windfall following the 2018 Grand Final triumph and switch to new home Optus Stadium.

The Eagles have declared an $11.4m operating surplus for last season – reportedly a $6m jump from 2017 – before a royalty payment of almost $4m to the West Australian Football Commission.