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Flag Eagle set for foot surgery, facing significant spell out

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WEST Coast is bracing to lose Tom Barrass to a significant spell on the sidelines, with the key defender set for surgery on his troublesome foot.  

Investigations into Barrass' stress-related issue are ongoing and the 21-year-old will see a specialist on Wednesday. He was spotted leaving Subiaco Oval with crutches in hand on Tuesday. 

Barrass, who struggled with foot soreness last season and over summer, was a late withdrawal from the Eagles' dismal 42-point loss to Port Adelaide on Good Friday and replaced in the line-up by veteran Will Schofield.  

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"Tom had a mid-foot problem after the (Western Derby) and it reared itself last week," West Coast's general manager football Craig Vozzo said. 

"We thought we would treat it conservatively with a six-day break, he didn’t do a lot of training and we thought we’d give it maximum time to be able to get to the line for the game against Port Adelaide on Good Friday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite right. 

"Subsequently, we had some more testing done and we’re not confident it’s going to be a short-term problem. 

"He’s seeing a specialist tomorrow and then our medical team will gather (more information) and give us some advice as to the likely time out.

"We’re fearing that it’s going to be a reasonable period out of the game unfortunately." 

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Barrass' flare-up again raised concerns about Optus Stadium's hard surface after coach Adam Simpson declared the Eagles would have to stop training at the venue.  

The Eagles are planning to meet stadium officials after a string of lower-leg issues suffered by their players.  

"It's (hard surface) something they're (Optus Stadium officials) aware of. It's not new, it's not after the weekend, so let's get that straight," Simpson told 6PR.

"It's difficult for Optus Stadium as well because the readings are within the boundaries of what the AFL boundaries are."  

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Simpson voiced reservations after losing Willie Rioli to a foot problem before round one, and the electric small forward is still a month away from returning.

Rioli took a positive step forward on Tuesday when he joined in warm-up kicking at Subiaco Oval before running laps, but has work to do building his fitness base.

"He’s progressed from doing gym work on to doing some running work (on the) Alter-G (treadmill) and a little bit on-ground now and holding up really well through each phase of his rehabilitation," Vozzo said.

 

Nic Naitanui (ACL) was absent as usual on Tuesday and the Eagles could take the conservative path by holding the influential ruckman back until after their round 13 bye.

Star spearhead Josh Kennedy, who battled foot soreness late in the pre-season, was on light marking and goalkicking duties with forwards coach Jaymie Graham. 

Emerging half-forward Jake Waterman should be available for the Geelong trip this Sunday after hamstring tightness kept him out last round coming off consecutive five-goal hauls in the WAFL.

The Eagles' structure is under the microscope for the Cats clash after the Power beating, and Simpson had lengthy conversations with premiership ruckman Nathan Vardy and Dom Sheed during training.

Vardy has been down this year and gone goalless from five games while averaging six disposals, and Sheed's red-hot form has tailed away since Andrew Gaff's return pushed him into an expanded forward role.