Star West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui is set to be back in action against Fremantle in Sunday’s AAMI Community Series clash at Optus Stadium.
In a positive sign heading towards round one, the reigning John Worsfold medallist is preparing to play some game time following a minor hamstring strain.
“Nic’s going well. He’s going to play this week if he gets through training, which we expect him to,” General Manager – Football Craig Vozzo told westcoasteagles.com.au.
“We’ve had a good run up to this point in time and he’ll play at least half a game.”
Naitanui looms as the major inclusion from last week’s practice match loss to the Dockers, with champion forward Josh Kennedy (calf) and gun midfielder Tim Kelly (thumb) to be held back with an eye to round one against Gold Coast.
“Tim is tracking well. We’ve decided to take a conservative approach to let the thumb fracture heal fully and he’s partaking in the vast majority of training,” Vozzo said.
“But we’re just going to hold him back from game play this week we’ve decided and he’ll be no problem for round one.
“Josh is tracking well. He’s had a really good run at it. We expect him to elevate his training later this week.
“We won’t play him this week. We’ll build him into round one and we’re really confident he’ll be available and firing.”
In good news, small forward Zac Langdon has avoided major ankle damage from an incident late in the scratch match and is a chance to be available this Sunday.
Meanwhile, developing big man Bailey Williams has recovered from a quad strain but has rolled an ankle.
“He’s going to be at least a couple of weeks from here because of the swelling and ligament damage as a result, but confident he’s back on track but we need to take a conservative approach,” Vozzo said.
“Unfortunately, that will mean he will sit out this week and he’ll be touch and go as we move towards round one.”
While dual club champion Elliot Yeo continues to progress from osteitis pubis and fellow midfielder Mark Hutchings builds after his iliotibial band issue, mobile forward Jake Waterman is also taking positive steps forward.
“Jake Waterman has turned the corner. You’ll see him doing some more work with our guys, potentially some full-group training, late this week and build back into next week,” Vozzo said.
“He’ll be touch and go for AFL (round) one and at this stage probably unlikely but we’re on the right track now and it won’t be too long before he’s back out playing.”