West Coast coach Adam Simpson has refused to buy into the trade talk surrounding out-of-favour defender Eric Mackenzie, saying rival clubs shouldn’t publicly target players who are still in the AFL finals race.
Essendon coach John Worsfold ruffled some feathers last week when he said he would consider luring Mackenzie and Mitch Brown to the Bombers.
Mackenzie has struggled to recapture top form since missing all of last year with a knee injury.
The 2014 club champion has featured in just two games since round 11, falling behind emerging star Tom Barrass in the pecking order.
Brown, who also underwent a knee reconstruction last year, is another player whose future at West Coast looks bleak.
Although both Brown and Mackenzie are contracted for next season, the duo could seek fresh opportunities elsewhere.
Simpson refused to bite when asked about the future of Mackenzie on Thursday, saying his full focus was on preparing for next week’s elimination final against the Bulldogs in Perth.
And he said it would be better if rival clubs held back on talking about players from teams in finals mode.
“I’m sure Essendon would take the conversation back if they could,” Simpson said.
“It’s OK if you’re out of the finals, but to talk about other clubs who have got players playing finals footy – I think we need to hold back on that.
“I suppose that’s one of the drawbacks of having a bye. There’s all this trade talk happening this week because there’s a bit more time.
“I think we need to respect the fact there’s teams still playing in the finals and individuals still fighting for spots.”
Of more immediate concern to Simpson is the fitness of ruckman Scott Lycett, who has been battling a posterior cruciate ligament injury to his left knee since round 10.
The problem has flared in recent weeks after Lycett copped heavy knocks in wins against Hawthorn and Adelaide.
The 23-year-old underwent scans on Tuesday, but Simpson is confident he’ll be fit to take on the Bulldogs.
However, Simpson said another big knock to the area could put Lycett out of action.
“I don’t think any long-term damage is the risk – it’s more getting through a game,” Simpson said.
Last week’s superb performance of fringe ruckman Jonathan Giles means West Coast will have the luxury of giving Lycett more time up forward.