Josh Kennedy returns to the side for this Sunday’s game against the Bulldogs.
The Eagles will be looking to grind out another win, in what will be a tough matchup against a Bulldogs side chasing a spot in this year’s finals.
And with the return of Josh Kennedy, who spent a week on the sidelines after suffering a nasty concussion in round 14, the Eagles look likely to come away from this weekend with another four points.
But it will be a hard-fought win against a refreshed Dogs side, who have had a 9-day rest in preparation for this game.
The Dogs will also want to bounce back from their tough loss against Geelong, after they took their feet off the gas in the last quarter to let the Cats come back into the game and win by 11 points.
As one of the best running teams in the league, the Dogs love to play a handball and this could pose a big threat to the Eagles half-backs, with Jeremy McGovern and co needing to be on form to keep what will be a rampant dog side on a tight leash.
After suffering an injury to his ankle during Tuesday night’s game against Essendon, McGovern was a doubt to start in this clash. But it seems he has recovered quickly and will have his hands full on Sunday to close down two-time All Australian Marcus Bontempelli.
And with youngster Aaron Naughton, who has kicked a whopping 11 goals in just 8 games, in flying form too, Simpson will be hoping that aerial goliath Tom Barrass can sure up the backline and keep the Dogs threat at bay. Barrass was on fire last week spoiling 9 Bombers attacks and taking 6 marks during the game, so let’s hope he can pick up where he left off and stop Naughton from getting his hands on the footy.
The Eagles suffered another blow in their game on Tuesday night with the loss of Luke Shuey, who suffered a double hamstring strain and looks likely to be on the sidelines for the rest of the league season.
To replace him, the West Coast have called on roving midfielder Tim Kelly. Kelly has been impressive this year quietly working under the radar doing some important groundwork to win the ball back for the Eagles on multiple occasions.
Bailey Williams and Shannon Hurn will also be rested this week, with Braydon Ainsworth coming into the side as a replacement, and Tom Cole stepping up to take over Hurn’s spot on the wing.
But the loss of Luke Shuey will be a big loss for the Eagles, and as one of the most influential players in this side, Simpson will be looking to the likes of Andrew Gaff and Nic Naitanui to step up and put in a big performance.
Gaff took 8 marks and made a huge 23 disposals last week against the Bombers and could again prove to be a clinical weapon for the Eagles this weekend.
A win on Sunday could take the Eagles joint top with Port Adelaide and Brisbane, both sat on 44 points.
Hopefully, they can come away with a win to end their poor record of losses at the Metricon Stadium this season.