WEST Coast star Elliot Yeo will play his first match in almost 12 months and draw closer to an AFL return when he lines up for the Eagles' WAFL team on Saturday.
The Eagles are likely to be without star defender Jeremy McGovern for Sunday's clash against Greater Western Sydney, however, as the club investigates his latest knee injury.
Yeo will play between 50 and 80 minutes against East Perth at Leederville Oval after a long battle with osteitis pubis that started last season and saw his 2020 campaign cut short in September.
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West Coast coach Adam Simpson said the match was the next stage of his mini pre-season but a return to the senior team would not be rushed.
"He needs to hit some more bodies, so he'll do that this week. We'll see how he pulls up and we'll go from there," the coach said.
"This is the next stage he's ready for. It's exciting that he's not far away, but we're not going to rush him back.
"We want to get Elliot through some managed minutes and build him up to the point where he plays at least 60 to 80 minutes."
Simpson said the two-time club champion, who last played at senior level in round 11 last season, still had his explosive power and booming kick.
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He now needed to work on his conditioning after a rehabilitation period that saw him jogging and walking laps under careful management for months on end.
"It (his power) is still there, he can still kick 60m and he doesn't look any different," Simpson said.
"The next phase is 60 or 70 minutes of contests, repeat speeds, efforts, and waking up sore the next day everywhere."
McGovern was considered "more unlikely than likely" for Sunday's clash at Giants Stadium after a knee injury suffered against Adelaide in round nine.
The injury needed further investigation, with a decision likely to be made on Thursday before the Eagles name their 25-man squad.
The club needed to uncover whether the four-time All-Australian risked further injury by playing.
"He's a small chance … we're just investigating a little bit further," Simpson said.
"It sort of crept up on us a little bit. What started as a niggle, we've got to investigate a bit more. I reckon we'll get clarity this afternoon.
"He played out the game, so that's why the concern wasn't as grave as perhaps what it is now."
Young star Oscar Allen appears set to take on the in-form Giants after wearing a full-length arm brace to protect his elbow on Tuesday.
All-Australian forward Liam Ryan (shin stress) and premiership skipper Shannon Hurn (calf) are also in line to return if they get through the rest of the week unscathed.
Simpson said celebrations for Hurn's club-record 291st game would likely be limited after the milestone had been acknowledged multiple times before late-week setbacks.
"I think we've played three tribute videos, and his 300th is coming up too. He doesn't like any of it," the coach said.
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"If he gets through training this week then maybe a quiet beer after the game is about as much as he'll want to do."
Simpson said the Eagles were not yet in a position to declare whether premiership forward Willie Rioli would return to the club after he was caught with cannabis at Darwin Airport last month.
"I've obviously got a lot of empathy for him and hopefully we can work through it, but there's a few things we've got to work through still," he said.
"The timeline is a difficult one, because you're dealing with more than just one person. There's a fair few people we need to deal with.
"Unfortunately he's put himself in this position and now we've got to get it right. I think he understands that."