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Gary Stocks  March 9, 2018 1:00 PM

Chris Masten was one of West Coast's best in last Sunday's practice match against Fremantle

Chris Masten was one of West Coast's best in last Sunday's practice match against Fremantle

The accent on youth will again be front and centre when the West Coast Eagles tackle Fremantle in JLT 3 at HBF Arena in Joondalup on Sunday, but a number of senior players are also pressing for round one roles.

Hard-nosed competitors like Jack Redden, Elliot Yeo, Chris Masten, Dom Sheed and Mark Hutchings are looking for midfield time and will use the final tune-up against the Dockers to press their claims.

And while they will be at the coalface showing they deserve first crack, a number of youngsters will be pushing to debut in round one against Sydney at Optus Stadium on Sunday, March 25.

Jake Waterman, Liam Ryan, Willie Rioli, Daniel Venables and Brayden Ainsworth are all trying to force a place against the Swans, where they would make their senior debut. As it should be at elite level, competition for a berth is highly competitive.

That handful of youngsters have been retained in the squad for Sunday’s clash with Fremantle, while other aspirants like Francis Watson, Luke Partington, Malcolm Karpany and Jackson Nelson have been named as emergencies.

While disappointed to miss the cut, they will continue to push their claims two weeks out from the season proper.

And although they would fall into the bracket of developing players at the club, the Eagles will still take a young team into this match.

There has been a strong injection of seniority to the team that played the Dockers in a practice game at Lathlain Park last Sunday, with front-liners like Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn, Jeremy McGovern, Mark LeCras, Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling and Redden all coming into the 26-man team.

Fremantle are again likely to be more experienced and will present the perfect opportunity for the Eagles to round off preparations.

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