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West Coast Eagles

Simpson declares certain starters

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 29: Adam Simpson, Senior Coach of the Eagles looks on during the 2019 AFL round 15 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the West Coast Eagles at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 29, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)
Adam Simpson says Josh Kennedy and Tom Cole will line up against the Pies tomorrow night

West Coast will take a near full-strength side into tomorrow night's pivotal clash with Collingwood after coach Adam Simpson confirmed spearhead Josh Kennedy would return against the Magpies.

Kennedy missed the RAC Derby win over Fremantle through illness, but replaces Brendon Ah Chee (calf), while premiership backman Tom Cole comes in for Liam Duggan (ankle).

The Eagles could move two wins clear of last year's Grand Final combatants with a ninth victory in 10 games on Friday night at Optus Stadium.

Simpson's side could effectively take a stranglehold of second spot with an eight-point buffer if Port Adelaide also accounts for Brisbane at Adelaide Oval.

"We're looking forward to it, actually. It's Friday night footy, quality opposition and a lot at stake. Our players are definitely excited about the game," Simpson said.

West Coast has won the past four clashes with Collingwood and Friday night's encounter will be the fifth meeting in 12 months.

The Magpies fly west under pressure after three losses in five starts, but Simpson remained wary of Nathan Buckley's men.

"How do you define under pressure? They're third on the ladder, they've lost one more game than us for the year," Simpson said.

"Their form might be a little bit off, but what we're seeing in the personnel and the talent on the track is still pretty good.

"We're aware of their best."

The Eagles will take a tall forward line into the contest, with Kennedy slotting in alongside Jack Darling, Oscar Allen and resting ruckman Tom Hickey.

Experienced defender Will Schofield has been overlooked, despite keeping a leash on Pies star Jordan De Goey in last year's Grand Final, while speedy forward Jack Petruccelle will make his return from a hamstring strain in the WAFL.

Duggan, who is in a race for September, is arguably the only walk-up starter unavailable, while premiership duo Mark Hutchings (hamstring) and Nathan Vardy (knee/ankle) will be sidelined for multiple weeks still.

Simpson said Nic Naitanui is raring to go against all-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy after pulling up well from his two AFL games back from his second knee reconstruction.

Naitanui played little more than a half against Hawthorn and the Dockers, and Simpson expected similar minutes from the marquee big man.

"The medical report I get (after the derby) we went through probably 30 players and Nic wasn't one of them, so that's a good thing," Simpson said.

"I think he's pulled up reasonably well both games, so he's managed to train.

"Sometimes when Nic gets sore he can't train during the week and that fuels game time and getting up for each week, and that normally points to he needs a week off.

"But two games in he's pulled up quite well, and he's ready to go."