West Coast will be missing a host of their best players when they take on the Crows at Adelaide Oval in Saturday’s AFL clash.
The dreaded injury curse has struck West Coast yet again, but coach Adam Simpson is hopeful his AFL team will avoid a repeat of last year’s horror finish.
The Eagles’ casualty ward has ballooned out to 13 players, with key figures such as Sharrod Wellingham, Matt Rosa, Scott Selwood, Brad Sheppard and Beau Waters ruled out for the rest of the season.
Big-bodied midfielder Elliot Yeo will struggle to play again this year, while defender Darren Glass has already retired and ruckman Dean Cox will miss Saturday’s clash with the Crows at Adelaide Oval due to concussion.
The situation is similar to last year when a host of West Coast’s stars missed the tailend of the season through injury.
Their absence proved to be disastrous, with the Eagles losing their final three games by an average of 71 points before John Worsfold stepped down as coach.
West Coast (7-10) have already cast an eye towards next year after slipping out of this year’s finals contention.
Although the injury crisis is less than ideal, Simpson said it would give him the chance to find out more about some of the club’s fringe players.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for a lot of our young players and it’s also a chance to keep growing together,” Simpson said on Thursday ahead of the Adelaide Oval clash with the Crows.
“The game this week, 50,000 (Adelaide fans) … it’s a sell-out, hostile environment.
“So once again it’s another test for me as a coach and also for our players of how they can stand up under a little bit of adversity.”
Adelaide (9-8) have won three of their past four games to move into eighth spot but can’t afford a slip-up against the lowly Eagles.
West Coast ruckman Scott Lycett will return to the side in place of Cox, who was knocked unconscious last Friday after copping a whack to the face from Richmond’s Ty Vickery.
Cox is still expected to travel to Adelaide to fulfil his duties as ruck coach.
Lycett has played just seven games this season, but the Eagles are desperate to re-sign the 21-year-old, especially in the wake of Cox’s retirement.
“I reckon he’s just about done his apprenticeship,” Simpson said of the South Australian, who was selected with pick No.29 in the 2010 national draft.
“He has worked under some tremendous ruckmen and he’s just starting to find his own and have influence on games.
“I think he had 10 possessions in the last half against Brisbane and he’s just about ready to take that next step. And obviously with Dean retiring it’s an important step for us.”