Eagle Naitanui a chance for early return

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui could make a surprise early return in next week’s AFL clash with Collingwood at the MCG.

Naitanui has been grounded since undergoing surgery to remove the plantaris tendons from both of his legs on June 14.

The procedure was designed to eradicate the Achilles tendon pain he’d been experiencing for most of the season.

West Coast initially pencilled in Naitanui to return for the round 20 clash with Fremantle, or the round 21 encounter against GWS.

But coach Adam Simpson said there was a chance Naitanui would be fit to face Collingwood on Saturday week.

“He’s one or two weeks away,” Simpson told Perth radio station 6PR.

“Hopefully we might see him around the Collingwood game. Or if not, it would be hopefully the week after.

“He’s one of our key players that we’d like in our side.”

Eagles midfielder Luke Shuey said Naitanui’s looming return would be a big boost..

“I was speaking to him (on Monday) morning. He’s feeling good, and hasn’t had any setbacks,” Shuey said.

“The most important thing is he’s back for finals. We won’t rush him back if he’s sore. But I think he’s had a pretty smooth run so far.”

Midfielder Dom Sheed, who was grounded earlier this season with a pectoral tear, is pushing for an AFL recall after making it through three WAFL games unscathed.

Defender Eric Mackenzie and Lewis Jetta are others in the mix to return for Saturday’s clash with Melbourne at Domain Stadium.

Jetta was an unused emergency during last week’s scrappy win over Carlton, but Simpson said the out-of-form wingman may need to go back to WAFL ranks to build up more match fitness and form.

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