WEST Coast draftees Tom Lamb and Jackson Nelson will make their AFL debuts against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Lamb and Nelson have played every game of the pre-season and it was widely anticipated that the pair would make their debuts this week.
And Eagles coach Adam Simpson confirmed it on Thursday, saying both players had earned their spots.
"(It's) really exciting for the club. Two kids we drafted in November and they get an opportunity to play in round one," he said.
"They've earned their spots."
The two Victorians will debut in front of family and friends at Etihad Stadium.
Watch as Nelson explains how he found out he was playing
Lamb was drafted with pick No.32 in last year's NAB AFL draft. His father Wayne played 21 matches with Melbourne and Fitzroy and his grandfather Ian Cooper was a member of the 1966 St Kilda premiership team.
Nelson was recruited from the Geelong Falcons with pick No.51 in the same draft.
"Lamby's exciting, he's going to be a very good player," Simpson said.
"He's showed some signs at the moment he can match it at AFL standard.
"You still don't quite know what you're going to get, which is exciting in itself.
"Whereas Jackson is a reliable, tough defender that can use the ball well, with a real defence-first attitude.
"We need that in our side. He'll play down back, and Lamby will play up forward.
"We're not going to put too much pressure on the two boys. An opportunity to play seniors in round one is great, but it doesn't mean they'll play every game or they'll slip straight into our team for the whole year."
See what the debut means to Lamb
Simpson said the Eagles' first pick in last year's draft, Liam Duggan, was pretty close to debuting as well.
"He played quite well at East Perth on the weekend," Simpson said.
"He kicked a couple and had 20-odd possessions, but he fatigued a little bit late in the game. He's probably a few weeks away, but we're excited about what he can bring as well."
The coach confirmed Xavier Ellis would miss with a hamstring injury but he was adamant he would be available next week after training on Thursday.
Jack Darling is edging closer to training with the main group after doing some light ball skills on Monday.
HBF Health injury update
"He's had five or six weeks of uninterrupted training, so the next step now is to train with the ball, rather than run around the oval," Simpson said.
"How quickly he adapts to the rigours of AFL, we'll see in the next two or three weeks. Barring any hiccups, we think he'll start training with the main group in the next week or two."
Simpson said he expected midfielder Sharrod Wellingham to step up this week following an impressive pre-season.
"I'm expecting him to lift another level this year," Simpson said.
"The sense that he owes the club, I suppose rings true with him. What we got him over for he hasn't delivered on yet. He knows that. He's given himself every opportunity."
The coach also said he was wary of the Bulldogs given what he's seen over the pre-season and what he knows of their new coach Luke Beveridge.
Preview: Dogs v Eagles
"I shared an office with Luke at the Hawks," Simpson said.
"I think they have done a good job in getting him in.
"I don't think they're unpredictable. I think they're playing to a pretty good system at the moment.
"The Bulldogs have been really impressive in the midfield over pre-season.
"They're number one for clearances, inside 50s, the ability to keep the ball in their half, how they defend, they've just had the game played in their half in all three games.
"So if we can't match them in the middle and we can't get good enough supply, then we'll struggle."