Midfield bull Elliot Yeo is “ticking the boxes” and on track to return early in the season, West Coast coach Adam Simpson says.
Struck down by osteitis pubis last year, Yeo missed the Eagles’ last eight games – including the elimination final heartbreaker against Collingwood – due to lingering soreness.
After a rest period, the dual club champion returned to Mineral Resources Park earlier than required pre-Christmas and is still building his workload.
He joined his teammates – who were allowed to train together as a full group, minus a number in quarantine – for warm-up on Monday morning before breaking away to continue his running program.
“He’s ticking the boxes. He’s advancing every week. We haven’t had a hiccup yet,” Simpson said.
“He’s on running duties at the moment, so the next phase for him will be change of direction (today). We’ll take that as it comes, but he’s still on track for an early return this season.
“We’re progressing, but his body will tell him where he’s at. He’ll get to a point where he needs to pull back and we’ll keep working through that, so hopefully we’ve pulled the right rein.
“I don’t think we can put a round on it (for Yeo’s return date) but he’ll be right when he’s right.
“At the moment, he’s tracking pretty well.”
Only a handful of Eagles are currently in modified training, and skipper Luke Shuey, forward Brendon Ah Chee and recruit Zac Langdon should filter back into full sessions in coming weeks.
“There’s a few little niggles, which there always are this time of year, and that’s probably the one risk of training remotely (before Christmas) is you come back into an environment where we ramp it up pretty quick,” Simpson said.
“If you think about prep for round one, quite often it’s a fair build when you start early December.
“There’s some players who are going to get injured just through overtraining early. We’ve got three or four guys with little niggles, but nothing that is going to hold them back.
“Outside of Elliot, I think most guys will be back in the full swing of it the next two weeks.”
Simpson is adjusting to a different off-season with some Victorian players currently in quarantine - including Andrew Gaff, Liam Duggan, Jarrod Brander, Jackson Nelson, Daniel Venables and recruit Alex Witherden.
The preparation for pre-season matches, beginning February 19, has also been condensed after last year’s COVID-19-impacted season.
“It’s different. It’s a new era because of the training and the fact we don’t see them before Christmas – the older guys – and you’ve got to put a lot of trust in the players,” Simpson said.
“I think we’ll adjust. If it continues year after year we’ll get better and better and the players will adapt themselves.
“But early stages, the time trials and the way they’re training, everyone looks like they’re in pretty good condition and there’s still plenty of time.”
Simpson, who is hoping for a decision on Willie Rioli’s future by the end of the month, declared consistency would be key for West Coast in 2021.
The Eagles’ best footy was was good enough to topple Grand finalist Geelong and the side pushed eventual premier Richmond last year, but a slow start was costly.
“Consistency of our playing group is really important,” Simpson said. “Availability helps.
“We had a period there last year which was our sweet spot for the middle part of the year and we fell away early and late.
“Probably the full season consistency is what we’re looking for.”