WEST Coast defender Tom Barrass will be given until Saturday morning to prove his fitness as he battles a shoulder injury, with the Eagles and Fremantle both set to make late selection calls for Sunday's Western Derby.
Dockers defender Luke Ryan also faces a fitness test on Saturday morning before teams are named, with coach Justin Longmuir "comfortable" with the progress being made by teammate Brennan Cox.
MEDICAL ROOM The full AFL injury list
The Eagles face the prospect of going into the Derby without both Jeremy McGovern (groin) and Barrass (shoulder) for the first time since round 15, 2019, and Simpson conceded the team could need to get creative.
"We’re still holding out hope. [Barrass] got a knock really late in the game," Simpson said at a joint media conference held virtually with Longmuir on Friday.
"We’re leaving it to the last minute and we’ll test it out tomorrow morning. We’ll give him every chance to play.
"You’ve got to stand by your system. But there is a tipping point as well with personnel. We have to work through that. Hopefully he plays and we don’t have to worry about it."
Simpson confirmed young defender Harry Edwards would play his second AFL game, while premiership captain Shannon Hurn returns from a calf injury to play a club record 291st match.
Young star Oscar Allen trained as a defender on Thursday and could play that role if needed, while a small but flexible backline was an option, Simpson said.
Star forward Josh Kennedy will also return from an ankle injury, boosting the club's on-field leadership, which was tested in a 97-point loss to Geelong in round six.
In further good news for the club on Friday, new deals for premiership heroes Dom Sheed and Liam Ryan were confirmed.
As first revealed by AFL.com.au, Sheed has turned his back on free agency to sign a long-term deal, but the Eagles have not disclosed the exact length of either contract.
At Fremantle, Longmuir was confident with Cox's progress from an ankle complaint and said the important key defender ran yesterday and was tracking well to play after an eight-day break.
Ryan will require a fitness test on Saturday morning, however, after receiving a knock to the calf against North Melbourne.
"That hindered him a bit at training on Tuesday, and yesterday it flared up a little bit and he didn’t get through," the coach said of last year's club champion.
"We’ll give him a good fitness test tomorrow, and if he passes that we’ll play him. If he doesn’t, we won’t take any risks."
Medium defender Tobe Watson is on standby as the likely replacement, Longmuir said.
The coach also confirmed midfielder Darcy Tucker would play his first game this season after recovering from a serious hamstring injury.
"He’s in our best 22 for sure, (but) he’s had a recurring hamstring issue," Longmuir said.
"He played a game in the reserves two weeks ago and unfortunately missed last week, but he’s got a good body of work behind him.
"He can play multiple roles for us, he adds flexibility to our midfield, and other areas of the ground. We’ll welcome him back this week."
Young forward Josh Treacy's position in the 22 is being considered after a quiet start to his AFL career in three goalless games.
Longmuir said the rookie tall was playing a role for the team that can go unrewarded.
"What he’s doing is he’s allowing others to get one-on-one looks. He’s occupying a good defender," he said.
"The other aspect of it is it probably limits Fyfe going forward, and in essence playing four tall forwards down there.
"So it’s something we’re trying to work through. Whether we give him another go, or whether we give him a stint in the reserves."
Sunday's match will have a crowd of 45,000, made up largely of West Coast fans, who will be required to wear masks – a condition of boosting the capacity at Optus Stadium to 75 per cent.