West Coast coach John Worsfold insists key forward Quinten Lynch is still part of the club’s September plans despite being dropped for the win over Collingwood.
Lynch had previously missed only two matches in the last two years, both because of suspension.
But he was squeezed out of the side as soon as Josh Kennedy had recovered from the ankle injury he sustained in round five.
Lynch has kicked 30 goals for the season, placing him third in the club’s goal kicking behind Josh Hill and Jack Darling.
It is an improvement on last year when he kicked 28 from 24 games and is his best tally since 2007.
Lynch, Kennedy and Darling were a potent force on the way to the 2011 preliminary final, with Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski around them.
Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui played as forwards when they weren’t in the ruck to add further height in attack.
Worsfold said the Eagles didn’t want to play four tall forwards against Collingwood, but were keen to play all of their big men in the same team in some games.
“We could comfortably play Lynchy as well in that side,” Worsfold said. “There’s factors around why we’ll go back to that at some point as well.
“Suffice to say, we wanted to go in with a similar line-up to the previous week in terms of our forward structure so Kennedy came back in and Lynchy missed out.
“He’s been very solid all year. It’s not as though he’s been out of form and we’re worried about what he’s going to bring if he comes in. He’s fit and healthy and he’ll play a role when he gets an opportunity.
“Jack’s a bit different type of player to Lynchy. They’re not exactly the same. The mix we felt we had with Jack, Josh and our ruckmen up there was the one we wanted to go for.”
West Coast’s ability to keep the ball in their forward line has been integral to their success in the last two seasons but Lynch had laid only one tackle from his previous three games and his 31 tackles for the season is well below Hill and Darling’s 59.
Lynch is one of five current Eagles to have played 200 games. He is out of contract at the end of the season and is an unrestricted free agent.
Worsfold said while sentiment still had some part to play in football, the coaches had to pick the best team every week. He said Ashton Hams was also unlucky to be dropped after playing 16 games this season.
West Coast have to beat Hawthorn at the MCG on Friday night to guarantee themselves a top four finish and finals double chance.
The Hawks moved to top spot for the first time this year after beating Sydney at the SCG on Saturday.
Worsfold said the Hawks and Swans had been the standout teams of 2012.
“Just looking at form over a fair period of time, it’s pretty hard to separate them and Sydney I think,” Worsfold said.
“I think that showed with their clash on the weekend. They’re both in really good form, playing really good footy.”