THE ACTIONS that follow what was surely Adam Simpson's most scathing public assessment of his West Coast team will be intriguing ahead of Sunday's highly anticipated Western Derby.

Simpson has made it his way over eight seasons to defend his players publicly while letting them know privately where they stand, but he changed direction dramatically after the Eagles' 97-point thrashing to Geelong.

The players' effort could be questioned, he said, and the team "looked weak". It was an "embarrassing" performance after they had been "annihilated in every aspect of the game".

It was an assessment that would point to immediate change the following week, but the Eagles find themselves in the difficult position of balancing injuries to key players while also addressing form.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson jogs off the ground after addressing his team against Geelong on April 24, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Selection has been dictated by injuries as much as performances this season. There has been at least one forced change in each of the past four weeks, and a further five across the season based on form.

Missing against Geelong were Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn, Elliot Yeo and Josh Kennedy. That's the Norm Smith medallist, flag captain and club champion from their 2018 premiership year, and a seven-time club leading goalkicker.

Then there is star forward Liam Ryan, a crucial member of the premiership team and a 2020 All-Australian.

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In that context it would be difficult to drop more senior players who are struggling to make their usual impact and require a reset.

Those 'omitted' from the selected 22 so far this season have been speedster Jack Petruccelle, premiership ruckman Nathan Vardy and young midfielder Xavier O'Neill.

Small forwards Zac Langdon and Isiah Winder were omitted the week after being activated as medical substitutes.

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Players from the same group will be under pressure this week, with Vardy (four disposals) and Langdon (nine and goalless) particularly quiet against the Cats.

Jake Waterman (six disposals) also struggled, while Jamie Cripps, who could miss through injury, went goalless for the second straight week and has four majors for the season. 

The downside to dropping an established player outside this group is obvious. Midfielder Dom Sheed had 13 disposals against the Cats, but eight days' earlier he was a game-breaking, three-goal star against Collingwood.  

Dom Sheed grabs the ball under pressure from Joel Selwood in the Cats-Eagles clash on April 24, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Andrew Gaff has likewise run more cold than hot this season, but would you risk dropping the All-Australian wingman knowing the elite level he is capable of reaching?  

Former Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich told SEN WA on Monday that coaches only have one or two opportunities a season to "really berate" their players and get a rise. 

Simpson took his opportunity after the worst loss in his tenure. If his hands are tied at selection and it's the only statement he can make ahead of Sunday's Derby, he will hope it's enough.