Eagles count of Cox but no LeCras
Dean Cox.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson has declared veteran ruckman Dean Cox a certain starter for their crucial clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The Eagles played all three ruckmen last week but there was speculation the retiring Cox would be rested with a six-day break before taking on the Bombers and concerns as to whether they would be too tall on the fast Etihad Stadium surface.

Speaking before the team flies out to Melbourne this afternoon, Simpson said Cox would play and star forward Mark LeCras (calf) would not travel.

He also said Nic Naitanui would front up again, despite struggling with soreness the last few weeks.

“We’ll play our best 22 that’s available,” Simpson said.

“We’re getting quite light on.

“We’ll lose (Xavier) Ellis (AC joint).

“Last week we performed well with what we had, so we’ll be pretty close to that side.

“But there’s the obvious guys who are available playing at East Perth that are in contention.”

Simpson said didn’t want to be drawn on potential fairytale runs into the finals.

“The last two weeks have been that (virtual elimination finals) as well,” he said.

“Every week’s potentially our last game were we are available for finals so we just have to win to be alive.

“This game is really good for our development this week, let alone next week or the week after.”

Simpson said they’d had a light week on the track with the short break.

“It’s been a difficult week to manage - a six-day break at Etihad and a big game,” he said.

“We have been pretty light on the track and the numbers have been light as well.

“We have really pulled back a little bit.”

The West Australian

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