The West

Kennedy on cusp of WAFL return
Kennedy on cusp of WAFL return

West Coast forward Josh Kennedy hopes to make his long-awaited comeback through the WAFL this weekend.

Kennedy has ramped up his training load in the past week and will join his teammates this week as a normal member of the on-field squad, according to coach John Worsfold.

The key tall was hampered by the painful foot ailment plantar fasciitis in the pre-season and has not played since injuring an ankle against Richmond in round five.

Worsfold said he was a significant piece missing in the team which will continue its hunt for a top-four spot against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium this Sunday.

"Kennedy's the main one," Worsfold told Melbourne radio station SEN.

"He should be, or we're hopeful that he'll be able to have a run around this week, more than likely at WAFL level.

"He's been in a running program for four or five weeks now and been doing a fair bit of ball work.

"Last week and this week coming up will be just full training with the whole squad so that he's ready to step into the game. It's not about any fitness levels, it's really just match touch now and getting him through a game or two where he'll pull up a bit sore.

"We'll manage him through that and see when we think he's ready to step into the team."

Kennedy was West Coast's leading goal kicker last year with 59 and kicked seven goals in round one this year after not playing a pre-season match.

His return would provide much-needed relief and support for second-year forward Jack Darling, who has carried the attack in the absence of Kennedy, Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski.

Matt Rosa was a chance to return against the Power from a fractured jaw, while Sam Butler and Brad Sheppard could also be in the selection mix.

But Worsfold denied that injuries to key players had denied the club the opportunity to manage the load on those left to carry the bulk of the work.

"It's surprising because at the start of the year we did look at the possibility of lightening the load of players," he said.

"But we haven't had to do it too much because a lot of those guys actually have sat out for two or three weeks suspended.

"You know, (Darren) Glass missed the game against GWS early in the year and then had his week's suspension last week, so he's had two perfect breaks.

"(Luke) Shuey missed two or three games through suspension, (Beau) Waters missed with suspension, Will Schofield missed a couple of weeks with suspension.

"So throughout the course of the year, with injuries and suspension, there's not too many that have played every game.

"The one's we're conscious of, the younger players like (Andrew) Gaff, (Chris) Masten and Darling … we managed to sub Gaff out halfway through a game against Gold Coast and we've lightened their loads off at training.

"Darling and Masten are the two that we want to keep a close eye on and keep their energy levels up."

Worsfold also said star midfielder Daniel Kerr had regained the true confidence in his body after suffering a career-threatening hamstring injury in 2010.

The West Australian

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