West Coast Eagles coach Adam Simpson has revealed Jack Darling and a host of other key players could return for the round-two clash against North Melbourne on Sunday.
The Eagles are priced at 7/2 to finish in the top eight of the AFL this season but got the campaign off to a losing start when going down by 27 points against the Gold Coast Suns at Optus Stadium.
The Eagles always knew they would be in for a tough start after injuries ripped through the camp in pre-season but at least there looks to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Darling impressed in match practice over the weekend after recovering from a foot issue and is now a contender to face the Kangaroos at the weekend. Not only that but captain Luke Shuey, Liam Ryan and Tim Kelly could also return.
"He’s super fit and he only missed a few sessions with [his foot injury], so it’s how he feels," Simpson said when quizzed about Darling. "We had a bit of a match sim with the WAFL Eagles on the weekend and he kicked about 10 goals, so he looked OK. But it was three 12-minute [periods].
"We’ll see how he pulls up, but we won’t rush him. If he’s right, he's right. If he’s not, he won't play."
Another positive for the Eagles was the return of Willi Rioli who showed glimpses of his former self in the game, in particular when booting a long-range goal in the third quarter.
"He’s been through a lot and a few people wrote him off and said he shouldn’t come back," Simpson added. "He would have dealt with a lot in the build-up to today, so just to get a game under his belt, he performed well.
"The players love him and his sense of belonging is very strong. It feels like he’s home."