Biting charge won’t affect Eagle Masten

West Coast coach Adam Simpson insists Chris Masten is in a good head space as the midfielder prepares to make his AFL return from a biting charge.

Masten copped a two-week ban after being found guilty of biting Fremantle’s Nick Suban during last month’s spiteful western derby.

Suban required a course of antibiotics after being bitten.

Masten has been a key cog in West Coast’s rise into flag contention this year, and Simpson says the 26-year-old hasn’t been scarred by the fallout from the biting incident.

“Mentally, he’s in a good space,” Simpson said ahead of Saturday night’s clash with St Kilda in Perth.

“We’ve welcomed him back with open arms. He’s a really important player in our side and adds to our balance in how we play.”

The Eagles will lock up second spot with victory over St Kilda and likely set up a blockbuster qualifying final encounter against Hawthorn in Perth.

And while Fremantle, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are resting players this weekend to prepare for their flag assault, West Coast have done the opposite.

The Eagles recalled Sam Butler, Sharrod Wellingham, Masten and Jackson Nelson, while star defender Jeremy McGovern was also named despite hurting his shoulder in last week’s loss to Adelaide.

McGovern has barely played in the past six weeks, and the Eagles are desperate to get more game time into him ahead of the finals.

“We wouldn’t risk him if he got to a point where he couldn’t get through a game,” Simpson said of McGovern, who had twice been sidelined by a hamstring issue this year.

“He needs to get some minutes up. We need to get some continuity back into our back half as well.

“We have had a lot of players miss one or two weeks in the last 10 weeks. We’re trying to get everyone back together, rather than rest players.”

Simpson is confident key defender Will Schofield will return from a hamstring injury next week.

And midfielder Scott Selwood can put his name up for a finals recall with a strong display for East Perth this weekend.

Meanwhile, Simpson says he hasn’t given any thought to the prospect of recruiting Geelong ace Steve Johnson next year.

Johnson will consider linking up with a new club after announcing on Friday he will not play on for Geelong in 2016.

The 32-year-old will weigh up his options over coming weeks, but Simpson doesn’t want to comment on the situation while the Eagles are focused on the finals.

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