Injured West Coast forward Josh Kennedy is fighting to be fit for the finals, with the tall target potentially having to wait until the end of the home-and-away season to make his return.
However, confirmation of the delay has been offset by good news on Andrew Embley's injury.
The veteran is ahead of schedule in his own comeback and could be playing in three weeks after a hasty recovery from shoulder surgery.
Kennedy had a screw removed from his injured ankle last Thursday after six weeks in a moon boot and on crutches.
He was due to start building his fitness at club headquarters this week by walking on a treadmill designed to take weight off the recovering joint.
Kennedy is understood to be hopeful of returning for the round-20 clash against Geelong at Patersons Stadium, placing him only a fortnight behind schedule.
West Coast initially felt their 2011 leading goal kicker would be available by round 18 after undergoing ankle surgery last month.
But the Eagles' official injury list released this week had Kennedy sidelined for up to 10 weeks. That scenario would involve the 24-year-old missing all but the final week of the home-and-away season, leaving him well short of match fitness entering September.
Kennedy's manager Wayne Loxley said there had been no major setback in his client's recovery.
"The surgery went really well," Loxley said.
"The surgeon was happy. When he went in to get the screw out there was no problem with it and it was feeling good.
"He's going to be nice and fresh."
Loxley pointed out that Kennedy was a forward, not a midfielder, and would not need as significant a fitness base before his return.
The Eagles forward line has functioned adequately despite his absence, with Jack Darling, Josh Hill, Dean Cox and Quinten Lynch all having kicked at least 14 goals for the season.
Despite that, West Coast would be desperate to have their best forward fit and firing for a tilt at a fourth premiership come finals.
Embley, 30, has been completing a full running program over recent weeks with the intention of building game time by playing for Swan Districts from next month. The Norm Smith medallist was expected to miss 16 weeks after surgery in April on his left shoulder.
Such a predicament would have taken him to the brink of the finals, but that recovery period has now been revised to three weeks by West Coast.
Embley has not played for Swans for a decade, with the premiership wingman having last run out in the black-and-white jumper back in round 18, 2002.
Fringe Eagles midfielder Bradd Dalziell is also ahead of schedule, with the 24-year-old a week away from resuming from a knee injury.
- ·PIE STIRS DUCKING DEBATE *P90
"The surgeon was happy. When he went in to get the screw out there was no problem with it.""Josh Kennedy's manager *Wayne Loxley *