WEST Coast will consider starting Sunday's clash against the Western Bulldogs with a tagger as coach Adam Simpson plots his strategy against "arguably the best midfield in the competition".
The Eagles' nominal run-with player, Mark Hutchings, is still battling a knee injury, with Jack Redden and former defender Liam Duggan now the most likely midfielders to play accountable roles.
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Simpson said the Bulldogs presented a massive challenge to his team and the acquisition of former Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney midfielder Adam Treloar had made their onball division even stronger.
Without captain Luke Shuey and star midfielder Elliot Yeo, Simpson said the Eagles' midfielders were looking forward to stepping up again in their first trip to Melbourne since the 2019 semi-final against Geelong.
"I think they're a top-four side and have arguably the best midfield in the competition," Simpson said of the Bulldogs.
"Unfortunate we're missing a couple of our top-class mids, but we think we've got the depth to challenge.
"It's not just their midfield. They've got three or four mids in different positions as well that they can run through there.
"That's always going to be a mammoth task against the Doggies. It's going to be a real challenge. I think there's plenty of belief there and they play a really good system."
The Bulldogs had the nine highest disposal winners on the ground in last Friday's 16-point win against the Magpies with four midfielders winning 30 disposals or more – Bailey Smith (36), Jack Macrae (35), Lachie Hunter (31) and Josh Dunkley (30).
Marcus Bontempelli also poses a significant threat after winning more than 20 possessions in each of his nine previous games against the Eagles since 2015 and hitting the scoreboard in five of those.
Asked if the Eagles would look to tag one of the Bulldogs' midfielders, Simpson said the team would go in with multiple plans.
"We always [look at] what if someone gets right off the chain … there's definitely some options," he said.
"We might start with it. We're still working on some of those things at training today.
"He (Bontempelli) has got everything and he's starting to hit the scoreboard as well.
"We've got to put a lot of work into him. But if you do that it just frees up some of the others as well.
"It's part of their strength, the collective."
Simpson said the Eagles would not use Jamaine Jones as the medical substitute again after he was not required to play against Gold Coast in round one, with the midfielder/forward in consideration for the starting 22.
"He registers a game and he got paid, but he didn’t play. We won't do that again with him this week," Simpson said.
"We'll need to rotate if they don't get to play.
"I don't think we've got any injuries from the weekend and our WAFL boys all got through unscathed, so we've got no more injuries than we've got."