More Eagles to enter H&S protocols, two stars nearing a return

WEST Coast’s COVID issues are set to continue with coach Adam Simpson revealing the club is working through one or two more cases ahead of Friday night’s clash with Richmond at Optus Stadium.

The Eagles have had a nightmare start to the season with several injuries including Nic Naitanui, Dom Sheed and Oscar Allen plus a raft of players missing games due to entering health and safety protocols, having already used 41 players with only three playing all six games.

West Coast had finally begun to get key players back, with Luke Shuey, Tim Kelly and Elliot Yeo among those to recently return, but they appear set for further personnel challenges.

Luke Shuey and Adam Simpson after the Eagles’ loss to the Swans in round five on April 15, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

“I think we might have one or two (players entering protocols) floating around,” Simpson told Seven News on Monday night.

Simpson declined to confirm the identities of the player or players but there were no noticeable absentees from Eagles training earlier on Monday afternoon, except Yeo who has entered concussion protocols.

The Eagles coach added: “We’re just working through it today. You’ll find out as soon as we let you.”

The news comes as West Coast hopes to regain All-Australian defender Jeremy McGovern after missing the past two games in health and safety protocols.

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Andrew Gaff ran strongly at training on Monday and appears close to returning after missing the past three games with an ankle injury.

“Hopefully ‘Gov’ is available this week, just needs to tick all the boxes, same as Andrew,” Simpson said.

“We won’t take any risks on those players.

“Gaffy has been a few weeks now, he missed a week with the same injury, came back and missed a couple of weeks. We’ll have that discussion later in the week.”

Gaff’s potential return would coincide with Yeo being unavailable again having entered concussion protocols after a head knock in Saturday’s 84-point loss to Port Adelaide.

Andrew Gaff training in December. Picture: AFL Photos

Mature-age draftee Greg Clark may also come into contention, having played two games in the WAFL after a pre-season shoulder injury. Clark gathered 25 disposals with seven tackles in West Coast’s loss to South Fremantle in the WAFL on Saturday.

“He was pretty good on the weekend,” Simpson said. “Unfortunately he had a good pre-season until he popped his shoulder, so he missed a good six or seven weeks.

“He falls under the same category as a lot of our players who are returning to play, I think he’s played two games now of WAFL footy.

“He looks like he’s running on top of the ground and he looks pretty good so he’s definitely in the mix this week.”

Allen (foot) was present at training on Monday but did not participate in any drills and remains weeks away, while Hugh Dixon (calf) was on light duties.

Naitanui also attended training, walking laps with teammates wearing a large knee brace after injuring the medial ligament in his left knee in the round four win over Collingwood.

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