West Coast has been dealt a shattering injury blow with scans confirming emerging defender Francis Watson has ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Watson was struck down at training last week as he changed direction and the promising rebounding half-back will soon undergo season-ending surgery.
The 24-year-old was yet to add to his two career games from last year this season but had been among those pushing for senior selection.
“It was a devastating blow for Franky and the whole footy club,” General Manager – Football Craig Vozzo told westcoasteagles.com.au.
“Unfortunately, a really innocuous incident at training. Often these things are. He turned and felt his knee go and unfortunately after the scans it confirmed the worst which was an ACL injury.
“It’s a largely 12-month type of injury. We’ll support Franky as much as we can through this process to get him back to full fitness.
“He’s in reasonable spirits given what’s happened but the surgery date is yet to be confirmed and we’re going to look after him.”
While Watson’s injury comes as a major blow, the Eagles hope to have star defender Jeremy McGovern (thumb) and utility Brendon Ah Chee (back) available to face flag contender Geelong on Saturday night.
“(McGovern) has coped with a lot over his career from an injury perspective and still got out to play. This one here he decided just with his dexterity and ability to handle the ball etcetera he just wasn’t quite right, so we didn’t take the risk going into the game,” Vozzo said.
“He’ll be a test this week. He seems to be healing quite well and in really good spirits, so we’re hopeful.
“Brendon had those fractures to the vertebrae in the lower back area. He has freed up a lot better than this time last week, so he’ll do some more main training tomorrow.
“Hopefully he’ll get through that well and put his hand up for selection.”
In more positive news, small forward Jamaine Jones (hamstring) is a week away from putting his hand up provided he gets through a heavy training workload.
Speedster Jack Petruccelle (hamstring) is further back facing a month lay-off but improving, while Nathan Vardy will miss one-to-two weeks after turning an ankle in Sunday’s night’s scrimmage against Collingwood’s reserves at Mineral Resources Park.
“It’s at the lower end of the spectrum but we just want to make sure we get that right and build him back up over the next fortnight,” Vozzo said of Vardy.
Meanwhile, rookie draftee Mitch O’Neill (back) has returned to Perth will finish quarantine at the end of the week before restarting a running program at the club.