WEST Coast recruit Alex Witherden will debut for his new club against Collingwood on Friday night as the Eagles anticipate another Magpie raid at Optus Stadium. 

The Eagles need to replace injured premiership skipper Shannon Hurn and have opted for Witherden over young defender Luke Foley because of the former Lion's experience going into a crunch game. 

West Coast coach Adam Simpson expected an under-pressure Collingwood would travel west with similar motivation to last year's elimination final, when they prevailed with their backs to the wall.  

"There's no illusions about what's happening this weekend. It's game on," Simpson said. 

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"We've just got to prepare what's best for us. They've got plenty of resolve and over the journey have faced more scrutiny than anyone and they travel really well.

"It's going to be a great battle and they beat us five games ago really. I don't think they'd be too worried about coming over here." 

Witherden, 22, has played 59 games but was overlooked in round one as he adjusted to the Eagles' game style. He was arguably best-on-ground in the WAFL at the weekend, however, and will help with the important role of taking kick-ins. 

"Essentially he's a good footballer, and he's got a good footy brain," Simpson said. 

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"He uses the ball pretty well, and we see him over time fitting in really well with what we do. 

"It was really close and we're really happy with [Foley's] development as well. He's very close to playing. He's in our squad." 

The 2-2 Eagles have also been under the spotlight this week after letting a 33-point lead against St Kilda slip at Marvel Stadium, with their midfield well beaten. 

Simpson said his team needed to get back to playing its way and stopping momentum once teams get a run on. 

West Coast's Tim Kelly is wrapped up against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium in round four on April 10, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

With captain Luke Shuey and star onballer Elliot Yeo missing against the Saints, the Eagles didn't get top-end performances from Tim Kelly (23 disposals and five clearances), Dom Sheed (22 and two) or Andrew Gaff (21 and three).  

"I'd be leaning towards our leaders and experienced midfielders standing up and playing their role and the other guys complementing them," Simpson said. 

"You need maximum performance from your leaders, and that's our expectation."

Yeo trained this week and is completing what Simpson has termed a "mini pre-season" in anticipation of a mid-season return.