The Eagles leave the field following the practice match between West Coast and Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park on February 25, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

WHEN West Coast took to the track on Monday morning with 24 available players just three weeks out from round one, it was hard to remember a club having a more cursed pre-season.

Spread thin across the ground and missing at least nine members of their best 22, it hit home just how significant the challenge is that now awaits the Eagles at the end of a luckless summer.  


As coach Adam Simpson noted on Friday night following three fresh setbacks, the blame can't be pinned on anyone for the majority of the issues the club has faced in the build-up to 2022.

The fact is only premiership forward Jack Darling's absence can be attributed back to anyone after he chose not to meet the AFL's COVID-19 protocols.

But looking at the Eagles' potential line-up for their round one clash against Gold Coast on March 20, it is clear who the responsibility will fall to if the Eagles are to successfully navigate the early stages of the season.

The issues start in the midfield, where Elliot Yeo (calf/Achilles tendon), Dom Sheed (syndesmosis) and Campbell Chesser (ankle) joined Luke Shuey (hamstring) on the sidelines after fresh injuries in Friday night's practice game against the Dockers.  

Dom Sheed limps from the field during the practice match between West Coast and Fremantle at Mineral Resources Park on February 25, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Tim Kelly, Jack Redden and Andrew Gaff remain, but support will now need to come from Jamaine Jones, Jack Petruccelle and Connor West, who have been three of the most impressive trainers this summer.

Recruit Sam Petrevski-Seton is another midfield option after a minor knee issue kept him out against Fremantle, while there will be a temptation to use premiership defender Liam Duggan's strength in the engine room despite only recently returning to full training.

Luke Edwards (groin) and Zane Trew (shin soreness) are two players the Eagles would have liked to have been able to turn to given their midfield issues, but neither will be available for the AAMI Community Series clash against Fremantle. 


The issues in attack have been clear since Oscar Allen placed his right foot in a moonboot two weeks ago, compounding Darling's absence

West Coast forward Oscar Allen looks on during a 2022 pre-season session. Picture:

As a result, the Eagles looks set to sign former Docker Hugh Dixon to their list before the Supplementary Selection Period ends following an impressive two-goal performance against the Dockers. 

The SSP deadline is March 9 and it is possible Dixon could line up for his second AFL game 11 days later if the Eagles decide they need another tall target to complement Josh Kennedy, Jake Waterman and ruck/forward Bailey Williams

The backline is intact and it is looking less likely the Eagles will swing Tom Barrass forward, meaning young defender Harry Edwards could be locked out of key positions there unless another tall is needed. 

PRE-SEASON UPDATE Injury watch, your praccy match eyecatchers

It's easy to miss when there is so much focus on who is missing, but there are still seven All-Australians fit and available to West Coast. The Eagles will need the best of them to navigate the opening weeks of the season.


B: Shannon Hurn, Tom Barrass, Josh Rotham
HB: Alex Witherden, Jeremy McGovern, Liam Duggan
C: Andrew Gaff, Connor West, Samo Petrevski-Seton
HF: Jack Petruccelle, Jake Waterman, Jamaine Jones
F: Liam Ryan, Josh Kennedy, Willie Rioli
FOLL: Nic Naitanui, Tim Kelly, Jack Redden
I/C: Bailey Williams, Luke Foley, Zac Langdon, Jackson Nelson
Substitute: Xavier O'Neill

MISSING IN ACTION: Elliot Yeo (calf/Achilles tendon), Luke Shuey (hamstring), Oscar Allen (foot), Jack Darling (COVID-19 protocols), Dom Sheed (syndesmosis), Jamie Cripps (pectoral), Tom Cole (ankle), Campbell Chesser (ankle), Greg Clark (AC joint)