West Coast midfielder Elliot Yeo faces an uphill battle to be fit for the start of the AFL finals series as his recovery from osteitis pubis continues to drag on.
Yeo hasn’t played since being a late withdrawal from the round-12 win over Hawthorn on August 16.
The 26-year-old was rested from training for two weeks after that to give him time to heal, but his build-up since resuming has been slow.
West Coast’s first final is a little over two weeks away, and Yeo would need to make some major strides in that time to be considered for a recall.
“It’s a slow process with these groins,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
“There’s no time frame, it’s just when it starts to feel a bit better you can advance.
“Our plan was to reintroduce him into some training, some straight-line running. He hasn’t gone past that phase yet.
“We won’t risk Yeo for his longer-term future. But at the same time if we can get him up for this finals series, we’ll definitely do so. We’ll make a call on that when we get back to Perth.”
Yeo’s tackle-breaking power at the stoppages has become a major weapon for the Eagles.
But even if he is able to return at some point during the finals series, there will be big question marks about whether he can produce that trademark explosiveness.
“The way you describe playing with osteitis is you can play but you just won’t play very well. And you might be a bit sorer for it,” Simpson said.
“It’s largely based on pain with a player. It’s a difficult injury to overcome … in a short period of time because you do have to back right off and then have to rebuild.”
West Coast will start as hot favourites against lowly North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Thursday night.
If the Eagles win that as expected, they’ll need either Richmond or Geelong to lose in order to snare a top-four berth.
The Eagles will welcome back midfielder Dom Sheed (hamstring) and forward Brendon Ah Chee (finger), while 20-year-old defender Luke Foley has been named for his debut – the club’s eighth this year.
Star defender Jeremy McGovern goes out with a hamstring injury that could see him miss the club’s first final.
Simpson said McGovern successfully negotiated a walk/jog session this week, while captain Luke Shuey (hamstring), Jack Redden (fractured thumb), and Jamie Cripps (personal reasons) are all on track to return for the start of the finals.