West Coast coach Adam Simpson concedes the confidence of his team is low, but he’s urging his players to stay resilient and rebound strongly in Saturday night’s clash with Essendon at Optus Stadium.
Last week’s 116-point loss to Hawthorn was West Coast’s heaviest defeat in Simpson’s 10-year reign as coach.
It left the Eagles on bottom of the table with a 1-9 record and a percentage of 55.4.
West Coast were missing 10 of their best 15 players against Hawthorn and they were dealt a further blow when Jamaine Jones suffered a serious ankle injury.
But the returns of Tom Barrass (illness), Shannon Hurn (groin) and Elliot Yeo (groin) against the Bombers will add vital experience into West Coast’s struggling group.
Simpson is doing his best to keep spirits high.
“Confidence is low, no doubt after after last week, so we’ve got to stay resilient,” Simpson said.
“We need to find a way to compete better.
“We are on a bit of a journey and there’s no quick fix. But we need to be better than last week.
“And regardless of how young the side is or the talent that’s not available, we want more than what we delivered last week, obviously.”
With captain Luke Shuey still sidelined with an ankle injury, emerging star Oscar Allen will skipper the side this week.
Allen battled a sore knee against the Hawks, but Simpson said the 24-year-old had pulled up well.
“I was a bit worried when he got a knock on it. He came off the last 10 minutes,” Simpson said.
“But he feels pretty good.”
Essendon snapped a four-match losing streak with their one-point triumph over Richmond last week.
The Bombers (5-5) can give their percentage of 102.6 a massive boost with a big win over a wounded Eagles outfit.
West Coast stars such as Shuey, Nic Naitanui, Liam Ryan, Jamie Cripps, Jeremy McGovern, Tom Cole, and Jack Darling are still sidelined.
Simpson said any team would struggle missing so many of their first-choice players.
“Last week we were missing 10 of our senior players,” Simpson said.
“If you grab any team and take out their top 10 and just put the rest of the list in there, it’s a challenge to assess how you’re going.”
Shuey, Cripps, Hurn and McGovern are out of contract at the end of the season, while the durability of Naitanui and Yeo has been questioned.
Simpson concedes the club is still yet to “crack the code” on how to ensure the club’s veterans are fit and available to play each week.
Some hard decisions will need to be made at the end of the season, but Simpson doesn’t want to get drawn into who will play on just yet.
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