Eagles great Peter Matera says West Coast's horrible run of injuries has cost them a genuine chance of winning the premiership.
With the club fighting to break back into the top four after losing three games in the last month, West Coast are facing the prospect of a rampant Geelong at Patersons Stadium tomorrow night.
Andrew Embley is likely to be included for his first AFL match since round two, while Josh Kennedy is pushing towards a return through the WAFL following an ankle injury sustained in round five.
But with Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski already ruled out for the year, Matera said the fifth-placed Eagles would struggle to beat Geelong and Hawthorn to claim this year's flag.
"You've got the two standouts which are Geelong and Hawthorn," Matera said.
"West Coast have got a lot of injuries. I think they'd be looking to the future more than this year.
"They've got a lot of players that are out that should be there. That's going to help them to get to that next stage.
"Finals are a totally different story. If you don't have your best players playing on that day, it's going to be really hard."
Matera yesterday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1992 premiership. He kicked five goals against Geelong and won the Norm Smith Medal.
That Eagles team played in four finals series in five years and lost the 1991 grand final before beating the Cats in to win the premiership.
West Coast rose from the wooden spoon in 2010 to play in last year's preliminary final, but many of the youngsters in the squad were experiencing their first finals.
Matera said while a premiership seemed beyond West Coast this year, playing finals would give the Eagles another vital taste of what was required.
"It's (about) trying to learn from your mistakes," Matera said.
"The more experience you have in the last few days of September, (the better). That's what you play footy for and if you get to that stage you'll learn more."
After heavy defeats to Sydney, Adelaide and Fremantle in recent weeks, the Eagles get a chance against another in-form team.
They will wear a commemorative jumper with the 1992 premiership team printed on the front.
Coach John Worsfold said Geelong stood out as one of West Coast's great rivals and would again be a significant challenge.
The Cats beat premiership favourites Hawthorn last week and have been in outstanding recent form.
But Worsfold said the Eagles' main concern was improving on form, regardless of the opposition."The challenge for all our players from that game is from Adelaide to Brisbane, and Brisbane into that game (the derby), there was too big a fluctuation in performance," he said. "We're challenging ourselves to be a lot more consistent."
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