West Coast ruckman Dean Cox is still capable of taking a game by the scruff of the neck and should only retire at the end of this season if he feels the time is right, according to his premiership teammate Andrew Embley.
The Eagles are facing a delicate balancing act in regards to their ruck stocks this season, with soon-to-turn 33-year-old Cox coming to the end of his career and young ruckmen Scott Lycett and Callum Sinclair both dominating in the WAFL and deserving senior opportunities.
Lycett has more than held his own in the past two games against Gold Coast and St Kilda, but made way for Cox, who returns after being rested for the past fortnight.
With Lycett out of contract at the end of the season and rival clubs monitoring his situation closely, Eagles coach Adam Simpson is under pressure to accelerate Cox's retirement, despite the six-times All- Australian remaining undecided on his future beyond this year.
Embley admitted that Cox had been quiet in some games this season, but pointed to his 17-disposal, two-goal performance against Collingwood in round 10 as evidence of why he needed to see the year out.
"His last couple of weeks (before being rested) have been a bit quiet, but two weeks before that his game against Collingwood was one of the best games I've seen him play for a year or two," Embley said.
"He's not that far away from taking a game by the scruff of the neck. When you get to Coxy's age, when you're coming to the end, you know when your time is up, when it's time to move on.
"I think having a couple of weeks off will really freshen him up.
"I think he's got a lot to give. He'll know when the time is right."
Embley has appeared at a number of venues across WA this week as part of the Carlton Draught Derby Legends Tour.
He said the Eagles' ruck stocks had been a hot topic, but remained adamant the club could manage the situation.
Simpson yesterday said the club's four ruckmen would all be rested at times this season.
"We feel he's a critical part of our future," Simpson said of Lycett. "Hopefully he's not seeing this as a demotion."