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JK will 'put up hand', but Eagles unsure on star forward

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WEST Coast coach Adam Simpson expects Josh Kennedy will put up his hand for round one, but a decision whether the battle-scarred veteran will be on the flight to Brisbane hinges on how he recovers from an intraclub on Friday.

Simpson confirmed gun defender Brad Sheppard (corked knee) and small forward Jamie Cripps (toe) would also take part in the intraclub.

Sheppard has recovered after copping a knock in the 51-point JLT Community Series win over Fremantle last Sunday, while Cripps is pushing his case for the season-opener but is unlikely to sway the match committee.

The Eagles are wary of rushing Kennedy and risk losing the 31-year-old if he breaks down again after battling foot soreness.

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"He's ready to play, it's just will he get through today and then medically he'll be fine," Simpson told AFL.com.au.

"Then it will be a decision if he's done enough to get through a season.

"Last year we played him (in round four after ankle and knee operations) and he got through, but then he broke his leg (hairline fracture) and missed seven weeks.

"He's pretty resilient, we've just got to keep an eye on how he pulls up and make a decision next week.

"I can't say we're going to play him or not."

Kennedy missed both JLT victories over Geelong and the Dockers, but a young forward line built around star tall Jack Darling still booted a combined 31 goals.

However, the Eagles were formidable with Kennedy and Darling last season – boasting a 13-0 record with them in the side – and the dual Coleman medallist's return would be a boost for a tricky trip to face the Lions. 

"I suspect he'll just put his hand up, so we'll just have to be smart about it," Simpson said.

"He's a lot more switched on than perhaps he was when he was 24 in regards to his body, so he'll be smart about it too."

 

Simpson said Cripps was "flying" after toe surgery and just needed to build his fitness base after being ticked off medically.

"Probably not (going to play) round one, but not far off," Simpson said.

After some injury concerns since the Grand Final, including surgery for Elliot Yeo (toe) and Jeremy McGovern (ribs), the Eagles have almost full availability for the season-opener.

Andrew Gaff is suspended until round three, while franchise big man Nic Naitanui could be back about two months into the season.

Naitanui has resumed jumping during ruck drills and remains on track for a sooner than expected comeback from his second knee reconstruction.

"I didn't know he was doing that (jumping on Thursday). I don't get a running update on his progression," Simpson said.   

"But he's on target for about round 10."