Former Geelong goalsneak Jamaine Jones could become an important back-up midfielder for West Coast this season as the 2018 premiers look to fill a few sizeable holes.
Star Eagles midfielder Elliot Yeo appears set to miss the early part of the AFL season as he battles an osteitis pubis problem that has sidelined him since round 11 last year.
Captain Luke Shuey has battled some niggling soft-tissue injuries over the summer, while Tim Kelly could miss the club’s two pre-season games with a thumb injury.
Defender Liam Duggan is set to be promoted into the midfield to cover the early-season loss of Yeo.
With games extended back to normal length in 2021 and rotations cut from 90 to 75, West Coast are looking at options to bolster their midfield depth.
Jones played seven games for Geelong in 2018 as a small forward before being the last addition to West Coast’s 2020 squad after joining the club as a train-on player.
The 180cm forward managed just two games before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury last year, but he has shed four kilograms over the summer and has significantly boosted his fitness.
The 22-year-old impressed in the midfield during last Friday’s intraclub match, and is expected to get more midfield time when West Coast take on Fremantle in an unofficial practice game on Saturday.
“Him pinch-hitting in the midfield really helps us out,” Eagles midfielder Dom Sheed said.
“With games extending, we may rely a bit more on a few forwards coming into the midfield.
“He’s had a great pre-season. The best thing for him is he’s been injury free.
“He’s worked a lot on his midfield stuff. To add that skill to his bow is a bonus for him. If he does get selected he’ll be ready to go.”
Forward Jarrod Brander, who was trialled on the wing last season, also looms as an important back-up midfield option for the Eagles.
Nic Naitanui, Josh Kennedy and Jeremy McGovern all sat out last Friday’s intraclub hitout, and it remains to be seen who will be selected against the Dockers.
Sheed said, whoever lines up, the Eagles will be taking the match seriously.
“You never want to lose a game of footy,” he said.
“Even the intraclub gets quite heated – your team doesn’t want to lose.
“Everyone hates losing, everyone is very competitive on the field. So we definitely want to win this game.”