Eagles not sweating over Shuey fitness

West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he’s not fretting about the fitness of Luke Shuey or Sharrod Wellingham heading into the start of the AFL season.

Shuey and Wellingham will miss their second straight pre-season game when West Coast host Gold Coast in Joondalup on Thursday.

Wellingham was nursing a cut foot during the summer, before copping a recent knock at training.

Shuey received a knock to his knee during a recent intra-club match.

The pair played key roles in West Coast’s charge to last year’s grand final, and Simpson said they remained on track to play in next week’s pre-season clash with Essendon at Domain Stadium.

“He’ll play next week for sure,” Simpson said of Shuey.

“He’s training fully. It’s just the risk of contact in a game – we just don’t want to take (it yet).

“(And with Wellingham) it’s nothing too dramatic.

“But this is the time of year where you can take a bit of precaution.”

Defender Eric Mackenzie will line up against Gold Coast for his first match since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee a year ago.

West Coast’s defence adapted brilliantly without Mackenzie and Mitch Brown last year, with the pint-sized back six showcasing vital rebounding power.

Swingman Jeremy McGovern shone the brightest, becoming an intercept master down back.

But the return of Mackenzie and Brown has raised questions about how West Coast’s defence will look in 2016 – both tactically and personnel wise.

Simpson said Mackenzie and Brown would need to adjust to the club’s new defensive strategy, rather than return to the systems of 2014 when they last played full seasons.

“The basis of their game won’t change, but maybe a bit of positioning,” Simpson said.

The Eagles will field close to a full strength side against Gold Coast on Thursday.

Chris Masten, Dom Sheed, Wellingham, Shuey, and Mark Hutchings are the notable exceptions, but a host of experienced players have been included for their first match of the pre-season.

Scott Lycett, who is in a ruck battle with Jonathan Giles to play as Nic Naitanui’s understudy this season, will be given a chance to prove his worth against the Suns.

Gold Coast have selected an inexperienced squad for their trip to Perth, with key players Gary Ablett, Jaega O’Meara, Matt Rosa, Nick Malceski, Michael Rischitelli, David Swallow, Tom Lynch, and Dion Prestia either injured or rested.

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