Out-of-form West Coast defender Eric Mackenzie will regain his spot in the side as soon as he rediscovers his mojo, according to teammate Sharrod Wellingham.
Mackenzie was rated as one of the AFL’s best defenders in 2014, but he’s been unable to recapture his golden form since undergoing a knee reconstruction last year.
The 28-year-old hasn’t featured for the Eagles since being dropped following the round-11 loss to the Western Bulldogs and he’s no certainty to return for next week’s home clash with North Melbourne.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson hasn’t been afraid to make big calls on the selection front this season, axing the Mackenzie, Lewis Jetta, Scott Lycett and Jack Redden.
Tom Barrass has flourished in defence since replacing Mackenzie in the side, while fellow backmen Will Schofield and Jeremy McGovern are enjoying strong seasons.
Mackenzie will be aiming to push his case for a recall when he lines up for WAFL side East Perth on Saturday, and Wellingham is confident it’s only a matter of time before the 2014 club champion is back in the senior side.
“He’s a great defender – one of the best in the league before he had his injury,” Wellingham said.
“He’s taken a little while to come back and have that confidence in his body.
“But as soon as he gets back to 100 per cent, I’m sure he’ll have a spot ready and waiting for him.”
Mitch Brown is in a fight to retain his spot after struggling in the role of back-up ruckman during Thursday night’s 78-point trouncing of Essendon.
Brown, who usually plays in defence, also failed to fire up forward, tallying just 13 possessions, six hit-outs, and 0.1 in his first AFL match of the year.
Simpson will consider recalling either Jonathan Giles or Fraser McInnes to help Scott Lycett battle it out with North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein on Sunday week.
West Coast sit just one win adrift of second spot despite failing to beat a top-eight side this year.
Last year’s grand finalists still loom as a premiership smokey, but Wellingham says they need to work on becoming more consistent.
“In quarters, in games, we need to make sure we’re harder on each other and get the best out of each other,” Wellingham said.