The West

Sheed on brink of Eagles debut
Sheed on brink of Eagles debut

Dom Sheed is within touching distance of a dream round-one AFL debut against the Western Bulldogs after assistant coach Justin Longmuir declared him ready to have an impact at the elite level.

Sheed, 18, West Coast's first pick and the 11th player taken overall in last year's national draft, will be in a squad of 27 from which the Eagles select their final 22 for Sunday's game and was "real close", Longmuir said.

"If he doesn't get a go this week I expect him to play throughout the year," Longmuir said.

"He is a mature-bodied kid who has got a good head on his shoulders and has shown at under-18 level last year for WA that he can dominate games.

"He is a kid without a full pre-season under his belt, so fully ready is probably not the right way to describe it, but we are confident that he can have an impact at AFL level."

Sheed mounted a strong case for inclusion with an 18-disposal effort in a high-intensity practice match against Fremantle on March 6. He won eight of his touches in contests, had three clearances, three inside 50m entries and kicked a goal in a game that did not fall far short of home-and-away tempo.

Perhaps the only thing standing between him and a round-one debut is the healthy state of West Coast's list. The Eagles have few injury concerns, except for defender Beau Waters (shoulder) and midfielder Mark Hutchings (back). Midfielder Luke Shuey missed training yesterday, but Longmuir declared him a certain starter against the Bulldogs.

With the Eagles adding depth to their squad through the recruitment of Xavier Ellis and Elliot Yeo, Longmuir was tipping "selection dilemmas" over the next day or two.

Ellis and Yeo look certain to play and Longmuir said the Eagles would consider playing a third ruckman - either Scott Lycett or Callum Sinclair - to stretch a Bulldogs defence which will be under pressure coping with Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and either Dean Cox or Nic Naitanui when they rest.

Sinclair is currently on the rookie list and would have to be upgraded if he was going to play.

Naitanui was ready to play a full game in his normal role, Longmuir said. He tipped the 2012 All-Australian would surprise new coach Adam Simpson with his ability to impact a game.

"Adam will be surprised as to what Nic brings to the side," he said. "Looking at it from an opposition's point of view, sometimes you don't get the full perspective.

"It will be interesting to get Adam's thoughts after he watches him for the first half of the year because he is an exciting beast and he doesn't need a lot of possessions to influence a game.

"We are looking forward to getting him at full fitness. The way he is leaping at the footy … he did a fair bit of centre-bounce work in our scratch match last week and he looked to have his leap there, so that is exciting.

"His endurance won't be at full peak because he hasn't had the match fitness, but we are hoping his explosiveness is still there."

The West Australian

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