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Worsfold backs Kennedy for Eagles opener
Worsfold backs Kennedy for Eagles opener

West Coast coach John Worsfold has declared key forward Josh Kennedy capable of playing a full game against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

But Worsfold urged caution, saying the foot injury that prevented Kennedy from stepping out in any of the Eagles' five NAB Cup matches would not allow him to be at his best in the season opener.

Kennedy, who kicked a career-high 10 goals against the Bulldogs in round nine last season, has been on a restricted training program because of his injury.

His absence has been telling given Mark LeCras (knee) and Mark Nicoski (hamstring) suffered long-term injuries during the pre-season and Quinten Lynch was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Nicoski was yesterday ruled out until even later in the year after suffering muscle spasms following an operation to repair his ham-string tendon. He requires more surgery.

Worsfold said the match committee would decide whether to pick Lynch and Kennedy today, claiming Lynch had benefited from time on the sidelines and would enter the season fresh.

"Josh is the one that, if he comes in, we'll give him a focus of what we expect from him," Worsfold said.

"We don't expect him to be at his peak form in round one but we would expect that if he was selected, he would be able to contribute.

"The boys are very confident with the amount of touch that he's been doing."

Worsfold said the squad was better than last year when it shot up the ladder to finish fourth.

He dismissed Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney's claim that his side had been trained to play "nasty within the rules", saying every match was played that way.

Worsfold said the restructured forward line could include Kennedy, Lynch, former Bulldog Josh Hill, Ashton Hams and Gerrick Weedon. Hill struggled to play regularly last year, but has impressed since joining the Eagles.

"He's completed the entire pre-season. He's done everything we've asked of him," Worsfold said.

"He's shown some good improvements in areas we were looking for him to improve. Overall, we can't knock anything he's done.

"Hams and Weedon have stepped up again on what we believe they can add to our team from what we thought they could add last year.

"With Hill, we've got a decision to make about how many (play). They could all play easily because their form has been pretty good.

"They've worked well together. Whether there's spots for them all with Kennedy and Lynch potentially coming back in, that's the selection process that we'll go through."

"We don't expect (Kennedy) to be at his peak form in round one."" West Coast coach *John Worsfold *