Battling tag puts Shuey on this toes

West Coast midfielder Luke Shuey says he has been targeted more this year than any other season, but has set himself for a strong finish to 2014 to show he is developing as a player.

The 24-year-old has continued to battle in the face of regular tags this season despite having a better run with injury.

He is averaging 22 disposals - one less than two years ago - at a time when lengthy injuries to fellow on-ballers Scott Selwood (ankle), Elliot Yeo (hand) and now Matt Rosa (pectoral tendon) have left the Eagles depending on his influence more than ever.

A depleted West Coast midfield has at least been guaranteed the return of ruckman Nic Naitanui for Saturday night's clash against Brisbane at the Gabba after he trained strongly at Patersons Stadium yesterday.

However, Josh Kennedy will miss the long road trip after accepting a one-match ban for a heavy bump on Swans defender Zak Jones from Sunday's loss.

Shuey said the players were not happy with their narrow defeats to top-four sides Sydney and Fremantle over the past fortnight.

He said he intended to lift his output during the run home to help get the 11th-placed Eagles back on track.

"It's been a bit up and down," Shuey said of his form this year.

"I have been thankful that I haven't really had any injury problems this year.

"I have been able to have a good run at it.

"I have faced a lot more challenges this year than any other year, but I would like to think I can finish the last six or seven games off strongly.

"I think I have come up against more attention from opposition this year than any other year, but that is just part of football and is part of my development."

Shuey's trademark explosive dash away from stoppages has been a rarer sight in 2014, with opposition sides concentrating on blocking his space.

"There's no excuse," he said.

"I still have to find a way to do it, so like I said I am looking for a strong finish to the season in the next six weeks."

The midfielder spoke yesterday to help promote the club's Dig Deep campaign, which is in its 10th year and has so far raised more than $900,000 for the Cancer Council WA.

Versatile tall Callum Sinclair is looming as the likely replacement for a suspended Kennedy.

The 24-year-old spent time with forward line coach Justin Longmuir yesterday and finished off the training session in a specialised drill where he practised contested marking as a lone forward target.

… I am looking for a strong finish to the season …"Luke Shuey

The West Australian

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