Mystery surrounds the amount of time Nic Naitanui will spend on the AFL sidelines, with reports emerging the star West Coast ruckman has undergone surgery on both of his ankles.
Naitanui went under the knife on Tuesday in a procedure designed to help address the inflammation the 26-year-old had been experiencing around one of his achilles tendons.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson described the surgery as a success, with the club estimating the 2012 All-Australian would require six-eight weeks on the sidelines.
But reports have since emerged claiming Naitanui had had surgery done on both feet, casting doubt on his ability to return this year.
Earlier on Wednesday, Simpson was optimistic Naitanui would be back at some point this year.
“I think it’s gone really well,” Simpson said of the surgery.
“We’ll see how he recovers. It’s a delicate area. We understand that. But we think we’ll get him back this year.”
If West Coast did lose Naitanui for the rest of the year, it would be a huge blow to their premiership hopes.
The Eagles (7-5) already face a battle to secure a top-four spot, and Naitanui’s ongoing absence would rob them of one of the competition’s best ruckmen.
Scott Lycett will fill the void during Naitanui’s time out, with Fraser McInnes, Jonathan Giles or Jeremy McGovern to offer ruck support.
Meanwhile, Simpson will consider handing Lewis Jetta an AFL recall for Saturday’s clash with Brisbane at the Gabba despite the former Swan’s inept display at WAFL level.
Simpson has promised to wield the axe in the wake of his team’s final-quarter flop last week against Adelaide, saying the clock’s ticking in West Coast’s bid to establish themselves as a premiership threat.
The third-year coach revealed Mark LeCras would be given another chance to prove his worth despite a series of inconsistent displays.
But the likes of Jamie Cripps, Jack Redden and Liam Duggan face a nervous wait on the selection front.
Jetta has struggled since arriving at West Coast as a high-profile recruit at the end of last season.
The 27-year-old has been dropped twice already this year.
And the spotlight intensified on him when he managed just eight disposals and two tackles a fortnight ago for WAFL side East Perth.
Last week’s state game meant Jetta didn’t have a chance to atone for that poor display.
But Simpson is heavily considering handing the 134-game veteran an AFL recall this week as part of a wider group of changes.
“He was disappointing a couple of weeks ago, but he’s doing some really good things on the track and during the week,” Simpson said on Wednesday.
“He’s definitely one who’s in the mix.
“Our ball use, I thought, was one of the main factors on the weekend that fell down – our inability to connect – and he’s one guy who can do that.
“He’s also a player who’s played 150-odd games. I know it (good form) is in there. I know we got him for a reason.”