NIC NAITANUI has been held out of Friday night's NAB Challenge due to back soreness, but the West Coast hierarchy believe the injury is only minor.
Naitanui was not named in the Eagles’ squad to face Carlton on Wednesday and the star ruckman was restricted to light duties at training on Thursday.
A fortnight ago Naitanui said he was keen to play as many games as possible in the pre-season after enjoying one of his best summers in recent years.
He was in-line to play in the Indigenous All Stars game last Friday night but did not play, and Eagles assistant coach Don Pyke said the decision to rest Naitanui again this week was precautionary.
"He's a bit stiff in the back," Pyke said.
"He's such a valuable player to us. We're five weeks out from the season. We're hopeful it's a minor setback and he'll be fine for the next game. It's precaution more than anything.
"He was a little bit disappointed when he found out he wasn't going to be playing because he's done a lot of work this pre-season and is in really good shape."
Pyke said Naitanui would have been borderline to play if it was round one this week, but the Eagles have a no risk policy for the NAB Challenge.
Scott Selwood has returned to full training after his ankle surgery in December and is on track to play later in the NAB Challenge.
Jack Darling remains a major concern for West Coast. The 22-year-old was not sighted at training on Monday or Thursday.
Senior coach Adam Simpson effectively ruled him out of the entire NAB Challenge and round one last week, and it is possible Darling could miss a number of games early in the home and away season as he continues his battle with a stress injury in his foot.
"He's been slower than we probably hoped," Pyke said.
"But he's making progress. From what I've heard he's likely to not be available early in the season, but we'll take it from there."
New draftees Tom Lamb and Jackson Nelson will get another chance to impress after both played cameo roles in last Friday night's win over the Indigenous All Stars.
The Eagles first-round draft pick Liam Duggan has suffered a minor ankle injury but he is working his way back to full fitness via a tailored running program.
Friday night's clash against Carlton at Rushton Park in Mandurah is a sell-out.