Mackenzie returns for Eagles in AFL

West Coast’s 2014 best and fairest winner Eric Mackenzie will have some adjustments to make in his AFL comeback.

The Eagles will welcome back the defender in Thursday’s pre-season match against Gold Coast in Joondalup.

Mackenzie missed all last season because of a knee reconstruction and fellow backman Mitch Brown only played one game for the same reason.

In their absence, the undermanned Eagles defence was outstanding as they made the grand final.

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

Brown returned in the Eagles’ first pre-season game.

While he and Mackenzie are crucial inclusions, coach Adam Simpson said they would have to adapt to West Coast’s new-look defensive setup.

“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 the Eagles.

Chris Masten, Dom Sheed, Sharrod Wellingham, Luke 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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