Eagles hopeful McGovern will play Lions

West Coast coach Adam Simpson is confident star defender Jeremy McGovern will be fit for Sunday’s AFL clash with Brisbane at the Gabba.

And the Eagles will use the match to unveil their fourth debutant of the season, with big man Fraser McInnes to be thrust into the thick of the action.

McGovern injured his left knee in last Sunday’s loss to Fremantle in Perth.

West Coast, already missing key defenders Mitch Brown and Eric Mackenzie, initially expected the setback to sideline McGovern for several weeks.

But the 23-year-old is now a strong chance to feature against the Lions after scans cleared him of any damage.

“We’ll take him for sure and see how he pulls up once we land,” Simpson said before the team flew out to Brisbane on Friday.

“We think there are good signs there.

“He has a bit of bone bruising in his knee and there is no damage, so it’s more how he feels.

“He can’t do any more damage to it. There is no tear. We wouldn’t take a risk on him if he wasn’t right.”

Should McGovern be a late scratching, the 197cm Fraser McInnes is set to be handed a key role in defence.

The 21-year-old is into his fourth year on West Coast’s list, and he’ll join Tom Lamb, Liam Duggan, and Jackson Nelson as other Eagles to have debuted this year.

“He’s got good versatility and he’s earned his spot in the side. He can play forward, rusk or down back,” Simpson said of McInnes, who was taken with pick No.28 in the 2011 national draft.

“He’s bigger (than he was previously). He’s more confident in his own ability and his ability to play in different positions now is to a level where it gives us good flexibility.”

West Coast’s players are keen to atone for their dismal display against the Dockers last week, when they conceded the first 11 goals on the way to a sixth straight derby loss.

Brisbane are also desperate to taste victory following their winless start to the season.

The Lions’ average losing margin has been a worrying 58 points, but the likely return of skipper Tom Rockliff (broken ribs/punctured lung) will help their cause.

Meanwhile, Eagles forward Jamie Cripps has re-signed for a further three years, tying him to the club until the end of 2018.

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