WEST Coast's ruck stocks are in a precarious position after the Eagles confirmed Nathan Vardy will miss at least the next month with an abductor tear.
The injury-plagued ex-Cat went down after a seemingly innocuous ruck contest during the fourth quarter of Sunday's scratch match loss to Fremantle at Lathlain Park.
Vardy was in obvious pain as he was helped from the field by two trainers and the prognosis is worse than West Coast initially expected.
"We’re thinking it’s probably a month to six-week injury," general manager of football Craig Vozzo told westcoasteagles.com.au.
"But we’re not really going to know until he starts healing and then we start taking him through each phase of the recovery process.
"The positive thing is it’s not a structural injury and he’s suffered some pretty significant structural injuries over time.
"He’s also well-equipped from a mental point of view to get through periods in rehab, so he’s quite upbeat actually.
"He’s quite relieved in the sense that it’s a setback but not a season-ending setback, which he’s experienced in the past."
Vardy's setback leaves the Eagles' ruck division leaning heavily on Scott Lycett.
Star big man Nic Naitanui is unlikely to return from his knee reconstruction in Sunday's final JLT Community Series tune-up against the Dockers and is in doubt for the March 25 season-opener.
Lycett, who only managed one AFL appearance last year due to shoulder issues, is likely to be supported by 198cm forward-ruck Fraser McInnes in this Sunday's clash at Joondalup.
McInnes has managed only 11 appearances in six seasons on the list but is shortening for a round one berth, with spearhead Josh Kennedy (ankle) also in doubt.
West Coast's round one opponent Sydney is also facing a big man dilemma.
Sam Naismith went down with a ruptured ACL at training on Wednesday, while Kurt Tippett has retired, leaving the Swans with only two ruck options.
Meanwhile, the Eagles won't risk top draftee Jarrod Brander this Sunday after the tall forward twisted an ankle against the Dockers.
"He came back on and performed really well in the second half, but he’s ended up with a bit of swelling," Vozzo said.
"As he’s a first-year player, he’s probably unlikely to play on the weekend just as a matter of caution, but he’s tracking well and I expect him to be available the following week."
The Eagles should regain Jeremy McGovern (concussion) against the Dockers as they ramp up their round one preparations.
Veteran backman Eric Mackenzie (toe), recruit Brendon Ah Chee (ankle) and Jack Petruccelle (finger) are among the Eagles on modified training programs.