WEST Coast premiership defender Liam Duggan is prepared to stay in the Eagles midfield all season if needed as the team goes "back to basics" in their AAMI Community Series clash against Fremantle on Sunday.
Duggan has switched to an onball role this season as West Coast looks for reinforcements while premiership star Elliot Yeo continues to work back from a long lay-off with osteitis pubis.
AAMI COMMUNITY SERIES Check out the pre-season fixture
The 24-year-old has been a standout this pre-season but was part of a midfield brigade that was beaten by a young Dockers team in Saturday's practice match at Mineral Resources Park.
Duggan said the Eagles needed to improve when they face the Dockers again at Optus Stadium on Sunday in their last competitive hitout before their season-opener against Gold Coast on March 21.
"For us its back down to basics. We were beaten in most facets of the game and we need to win around the footy, so I think that's what our main focus will be this week," Duggan said.
"We were a little bit rusty on the weekend, which we're the first to own up to.
"The quality of their clearances was hurting us, so we need to be able to nullify that and in turn win a bit more of our own footy and send it down to our forwards.
"I wouldn't say it was a wake-up call to me, but it definitely shows the quality of the players you come up against in the midfield and there's a lot of onus on the midfield to get the job done for the team."
The Eagles were missing several front-line midfielders on Saturday, with ruckman Nic Naitanui (hamstring), stoppage specialist Tim Kelly (thumb) and Yeo sidelined, while captain Luke Shuey starred before being rested after half-time.
Duggan said he was not yet sure who would return for Sunday's clash, but he would continue to work in the midfield as long as needed, bringing the strengths he has developed as a defender.
"We’ve got some injuries in there and that's why I'm rolling through there at this stage," he said.
"For me it's to be versatile and play my role in there. I'm trying to take a heap of knowledge off those boys that are in there already and I've got a lot of learning to do.
"It's exciting for me, but I think it's to get down to basics, hunt the footy and run hard."
Duggan had a defensive focus on Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe at several stoppages on Saturday, but said he was not likely to play a tagging role.
"I think that's more of a natural way I play through the midfield having been a defender for the last four years," he said.
"I find if that can be a strength of mine and what I bring to the midfield then so be it.
"The way it seems to go I run a few defensive patterns and in turn I've got to learn to get after the footy a bit more.
"You see Nathan Fyfe running around and you want to stay a little bit closer to him because he's so damaging.
"It's something that just happens and is naturally built into my game at the moment."
AFL FIXTURE Check it out here
Asked if he wanted the midfield move to be permanent, Duggan said he would continue to do what is best for the team, which right now means playing midfield.
"I made it public at the best and fairest that I'd like to be a defender, but obviously it's great to be in there and growing as a midfielder and trying something different," he said.
"I came to the club as a midfielder and Dom Sheed jokes that I'm fourth time lucky having a go in there and I've been kicked out every time. We'll see how I go this time."