Eagles out to retain Darling
Eagles out to retain Darling

Coach Adam Simpson says West Coast's finals chances are alive entering tomorrow's match against St Kilda as the club continues its moves to lock away its young talent on long-term deals.

As flagged by thewest.com.au last month, the Eagles have entered into contract discussions with forward Jack Darling - their priority signing after Nic Naitanui committed to a five-year deal.

The 22-year-old isn't out of contract until the end of next season, but is a vital cog in West Coast's quest for a fourth flag.

They are 11th after their win over Gold Coast last week and have the opportunity to go into next week's western derby just one win out of the top eight if they beat the Saints at Etihad Stadium and other results go as expected.

Despite the win over the Suns being the Eagles' first over a top-eight side this season, Simpson said the players hadn't given up on making the finals.

"We still think we're involved in the season. We're not putting the cue in the rack," he said.

"It seems to be pretty even.

"No longer is it a top four, it seems to be a top six or seven that are really pressing for the flag and teams can beat anyone at the moment. There are still a lot of positions up for grabs, I would have thought.

"The win last week … it won't mean too much if we don't perform well this week."

St Kilda are last, but pushed the Eagles at Patersons Stadium in round three and tomorrow confront a West Coast line-up missing Scott Selwood (ankle) and recruit Elliot Yeo (broken hand). The loss of Yeo has been offset by the return of Luke Shuey, who missed the win over Gold Coast with an ankle injury.

The Saints have made four changes after their 96-point loss to Geelong.

West Coast rested Dean Cox again, but Simpson backed the ruckman to have an influence in the latter half of the season.

"We'll give him another week just to get the body right," he said. "He'll play next week."

Cox's future has been questioned following the shock retirement of his premiership teammate Darren Glass last week, but Simpson says no decisions will be made until the end of the season.

"We saw what happened to Darren … the season caught up with him," Simpson said. "We don't want that to happen (with Cox) … he's got plenty of energy. We'll see how he pulls up at the end of the year."

Midfielder Matt Priddis will captain the Eagles.

The West Australian

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