UPDATE: West Coast coach John Worsfold says the risk of damaging Mark LeCras’ long-term future was the key reason behind the decision to end any hopes he had of coming back from a knee reconstruction this season.
With West Coast’s forward line already decimated by injury, the sight of LeCras training strongly in recent weeks had warmed the hearts of Eagles fans imagining him in the team for finals.
The forward line will be strengthened by Quinten Lynch’s return from suspension for Saturday’s clash with Adelaide, while Ashton Hams trained well yesterday after missing last week’s game with a quad injury.
Jack Darling is likely to miss Saturday’s game after doing little at training and Josh Hill’s only contribution to the session was dancing with the club mascot as he battles a hamstring complaint.
Defender Beau Waters trained strongly and showed no signs of the knee operation he had last week. Waters ran at top pace, twisted, kicked and competed with teammates and, surprisingly, looked close to a quicker-than-expected return to the AFL.
West Coast had to decide whether to increase LeCras’ training this week if he was to come back this year. But Worsfold said the club met before the loss to Sydney and decided they would focus on having LeCras healthy for next season.
“His program is around getting him ready for next year — not taking any risks,” Worsfold said.
“He’s got a lot of footy ahead. He’s an elite player. The risk of re-injuring his knee would not only put him out for another year, it would potentially do further damage to the knee and make it harder for him to come back. The reconstruction that he had was at the best possible level.
“There was no other damage to any other aspects of his knee. So he’s actually got a really healthy knee going forward.
“To try and risk him to come back early — if he did re-injure it — the odds are he would do further damage and we’d never see him back to being the great player we expect to see him back like next year.”
LeCras is the second Eagle in recent weeks to be ruled out of playing again this year. Mark Nicoski re-injured his hamstring and turned his attention to 2013.
Worsfold said Josh Kennedy and Andrew Embley remained on track to play again this year, with Embley expected to play 60 minutes for Swan Districts on Saturday week.
He hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder in round two.
Kennedy is preparing to play in the last fortnight of the season. He hasn’t played since injuring his ankle in round five, but Worsfold expected he’d be available for finals.
“He’s already running really well fitness wise, so by the time he’s ready to play, he’ll have done a pre-season. He’ll only need a couple of games of game time to start hitting his good form,” Worsfold said.