Star forward Mark LeCras will make his much-anticipated return to West Coast colours in the NAB Cup opener on Saturday, more than 12 months after he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.
Coach John Worsfold said yesterday LeCras would play at least one and possibly both of the shortened games against Fremantle and Geelong at Patersons Stadium.
LeCras was close to playing at the end of last season but the club decided to take a cautious approach with the 26-year-old.
Worsfold said the goalsneak had followed a strict program and had completed all the match simulation drills over the past month.
"We've had our equivalent of intraclub games and he has played in those," Worsfold said.
LeCras still had the ability to move into the midfield, despite the long lay-off.
"Our initial thing will be getting him playing footy where he knows the game in the forward line and we will assess the rest of it as we go," Worsfold said.
The coach said he would use about 30 players across the two games but ruled out Mark Nicoski, Beau Waters and Daniel Kerr.
Nicoski is still building in his return from a serious hamstring injury, Waters is training strongly but not ready for a match after off-season hip surgery, and Kerr has a knee complaint.
Worsfold said he was pleased with how the pre-season had gone.
"There have been some great performances but seeing some of the younger guys take the next step up and really matching it with some of the older guys has been great to see," he said.
"Some of the really senior play- ers like (Andrew) Embley and (Darren) Glass setting the standard, Adam Selwood - they ran their best-ever times for 2km time trials.
"Young players like Scott Lycett, the way he presented from the off-season, was outstanding."
Worsfold also confirmed Collingwood recruit Sharrod Wellingham would make his first appearance.
"Adding Wellingham in adds a bit more experience to our midfield so that adds to that competition (for spots) and we believe that some of the players have improved on last year so that adds to that competition as well," Worsfold said.
Ruckmen Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox also won't play on Saturday.
Cox did ball work yesterday as he recovers from a dislocated finger.
Naitanui told Channel 7 last night that he had increased his running program, doing 20 200m runs yesterday.
He said he was still aiming to play in round one.
Worsfold said he would back last year's All-Australian ruckman to prove his fitness by round one.
"He has got a program to follow. We are not going to take risks because we don't want him to have setbacks and miss any more football than he may," Worsfold said.
"The aim is to follow his program, progress him up and if he's ready for round one, cleared for us to select him, we'll select him."
Josh Hill jogged a few laps before leaving the track early and Matt Rosa walked and jogged several laps.