Andrew Embley will benefit from playing in the WAFL this week instead of attempting to return to West Coast as substitute, according to teammate Chris Masten.
Embley is likely to play his first WAFL game since 2002 when Swan Districts play Subiaco at Medibank Stadium on Saturday.
The 31-year-old hasn't played since round two after injuring his shoulder against Melbourne.
Embley missed most of the NAB Cup with a shoulder injury, depriving him of sustained match practice since the end of last season.
The Eagles have ruled out playing him as the substitute against Brisbane on Sunday.
Masten, who has had several long-term injuries in his career, said returning through the WAFL was clearly the best option.
"It's a massive step up from WAFL to AFL," Masten said.
"You can't really compare it.
"The speed and intensity of AFL is ridiculous.
"When you've just been running and doing trackwork, the game is so much harder.
"He should try to play as many minutes as he can down there, get his match fitness right up and when he comes back into the side, he should be right."
Embley has been running for more than a month and joined full training last week.
Masten said Embley had the advantage of being able to run while recovering unlike forward Josh Kennedy who has an ankle injury.
Masten said the players were looking forward to having the veteran back in the team.
"We definitely need it a little bit at the minute," Masten said.
"We've been struggling for a little bit of form so it'd be great to get any player like that back. Joshy's not far off as well so that'll be handy.
"Josh Hill's back this week so that's helpful for our forward line because we've been a little bit poor in our forward half.
"It's good to get players like that back and get a little bit of our depth back because we've been smashed there for a little bit."When you've got a whole forward line that's out and you're pinch-hitting players and picking them from all over the ground to chuck them forward, it's really difficult to sustain four quarters of good footy."
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