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Embley in career-best shape

Nathan Schmook  February 3, 2013 11:38 AM

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West Coast is looking forward to seeing Andrew Embley back in full flight

We have got quite a lot of depth in the midfield, but it's pretty hard to fit 16 blokes into probably 10 spots.
WEST Coast is expecting Andrew Embley to bounce back from an injury-cursed 2012 and rediscover his best football after the veteran posted a career-best 2km time trial result on the eve of his 15th season.

Embley suffered a shoulder dislocation in round two last season and didn't return until round 20 after having surgery, but his form in the Eagles' finals campaign was strong.

The 31-year-old, who signed a one-year deal for 2013, started this pre-season in the Eagles' remote program, but he has made a statement since returning to the main group.

Midfield coach Scott Burns said Embley and Matt Rosa, who also trained remotely with the senior group early in the pre-season, were in outstanding shape two weeks before West Coast's NAB Cup opener.  

"You've got to remember that Embley hardly played last year through his injuries and Rosa missed a fair chunk later in the year," Burns told AFL.com.au.

"Those two boys, physically right now, are probably in the best nick they’ve been in since I've been here.

"Embley ran a career-best time for his 2km post-Christmas."

Rosa made significant improvement last season, lifting his disposal efficiency and averaging a career-high 23 disposals, but a broken jaw and fractured collarbone late in the season restricted him to 18 games.

The wingman showed great courage to fight back and play in the Eagles' semi-final against Collingwood.  

"He's had a couple of kicks in the guts the past two seasons," Burns said.

"He's played some very good football for us, but he's been injured later in the year.

"He missed the finals two years ago and last year came in late after being injured for a fair bit.

"He certainly wants to make sure he's fit and firing for the season to give himself every opportunity to play some football towards the end of the year."

Burns said internal competition among a deep midfield group had seen a lift in training standards this pre-season, with recruits Sharrod Wellingham and Jamie Cripps adding class on the track.

He said forwards Mark LeCras and Josh Hill were both capable of pushing up the ground, while defender Sam Butler could also fit into the midfield mix at times.      

"Internal competition's great and it's holding us in good stead with the quality of our training right now," Burns said.

"I would hope in the next four to six weeks that will step up again.

"We know Butler's a premiership wingman and he's looking strong.

"We've got LeCras coming back from injury and we know that he's played some A-grade games in the midfield, so he's certainly got the capabilities.

"Josh Hill is covering the ground significantly better than last year, so he could come up higher.

"We have got quite a lot of depth in the midfield, but it's pretty hard to fit 16 blokes into probably 10 spots."