West Coast Eagles defender Tom Barrass set to bolster depleted defence as premiership pair fail to train
Key defender Tom Barrass is set to return in a significant boost to West Coast’s chances of breaking their away duck against Hawthorn on Sunday, after he got through training today.
But the Eagles’ injury concerns continue to mount, with defender Liam Duggan and back-up ruckman Nathan Vardy both absent from the main session.
Brad Sheppard added to those concerns when he left the training track early with a leg issue.
The fitness doubts could open the door for Bailey Williams and Luke Foley to make their first appearances of the season against the Hawks. Williams (three games) and Foley (one game) both made their debuts during last season’s second Queensland hub.
West Coast are planning to take a squad of 24 players on a charter flight to Melbourne today and return home on Sunday night.
Premier Mark McGowan’s announcement yesterday that a 75 per cent crowd limit would be in place at Optus Stadium until Saturday week means it is still possible the Eagles could welcome a full house to their next home game against Adelaide on Sunday week.
Yesterday’s session was conducted on the second oval at the club’s Lathlain base, which has the dimensions of the MCG, as West Coast prepare to return to the venue for the first time since the 2019 semifinal loss to Geelong.
Foley was part of a new-look back six in match simulation, with Barrass included as the defensive partner for youngster Harry Edwards and Oscar Allen sent forward.
Coach Adam Simpson said he was keen for the versatile Allen, who has kicked 16 goals this season, to return to the forward line after being required as a key defender against Fremantle.
“The question about Oscar Allen comes into play if (Barrass) is available,” Simpson said.
“Ideally I think Oscar’s a forward. If Tom’s available then we can have that discussion. So there is a ripple.”
Barrass missed the derby with a shoulder issue but has moved freely at training, including marking overhead and spoiling.
“He’s close. I think if he trains today and gets through, then he’ll put his hand up for selection,” Simpson said before training yesterday.
“We’re trying to get our soldiers back as best we can. We might lose a couple as well. So if we can get him back that would be great.”
Vardy has been battling a painful plantar fascia issue and if he’s not available it could open the door for the athletic Williams.
Star midfielder Elliot Yeo continued to build towards his return from osteitis pubis, playing in the match simulation as a defender and completing sprint work at only just below full pace.
The Eagles are now weighing up whether to bring Yeo through their reserves outfit or straight into the senior team, with a comeback expected around the time of their round 13 bye.
“There’s two ways to go about it, which we’re working though. Do we bring him back through the WAFL, two or three games there or one or two or one, or just train him up and get him ready and just bring him straight in?,” Simpson said.
“He’ll be part of that conversation, what he wants to do as well. He does like hitting bodies.”
Simpson said captain Luke Shuey, who has had hamstring surgery, was well behind Yeo and wouldn’t be available until later in the season.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails