West Coast head to Tasmania on a six-game AFL winning streak to face the under-fire North Melbourne on Sunday with Elliot Yeo and Dom Sheed straight back in, and star forward Jack Darling potentially a week away.
West Coast have battled injury problems since the pre-season with key defenders Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown out for the season after knee reconstructions.
Darling has yet to play in 2015 due to a foot stress fracture.
But the Eagles have exceeded all expectations to compile a 7-2 win-loss record to be in second spot heading to Blundstone Arena to play an enigmatic North Melbourne without coach Brad Scott for up to a month due to back surgery.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson and Kangaroos caretaker Darren Crocker were teammates at North Melbourne and played in a premiership together in 1996.
While not missed in last Sunday’s 56-point thumping of Geelong at Domain Stadium, the versatile Yeo is straight back from suspension while midfielder Sheed returns after a hand injury.
“I was reasonably worried that he (Yeo) wasn’t in our side last week and we did contemplate the appeal, but we got through the game, got the win and now we have him back,” Simpson said.
“It’s a good problem to have and things can change really quick. But this week we had a really good match committee and we think we’ve got a pretty good side.”
While the Eagles are in Tasmania, 22-year-old forward Darling will play his first game of the season in the WAFL for East Perth on Saturday.
If he gets through unscathed, Simpson sees no reason he couldn’t then come in to face Essendon the following Saturday in Perth.
“We’ll see how he goes, manage his game time and see how he pulls up. He’s pretty fit. If he can manage 80 to 90 minutes then we’ll look at him next week,” Simpson said.
“He’s been keen and other coaches have been keen as well but we’ve really taken a cautious approach. This week is another step. We’ll just worry about trying to beat North.”