Eagles young talent time
Eagles' young talent time

West Coast assistant coach Justin Longmuir admits the number of changes made by the club for tonight's game against Brisbane is a concern but he believes the fringe players can step up to AFL level.

The Eagles yesterday made their sixth change to the side which lost to Sydney last week when Brad Sheppard was a late omission with an ankle injury.

Defender Blayne Wilson replaces Sheppard in the team. Adam Carter flew east yesterday as the emergency.

The Eagles rested Dean Cox, dropped Jamie Cripps and Sharrod Wellingham and couldn't consider Matt Rosa (pectoral tendon) or Josh Kennedy (suspension) this week, causing them to blood a host of players who have struggled for opportunities.

Speaking at the Gabba yesterday, Longmuir said inclusions Callum Sinclair, Ash Smith, Dom Sheed and Simon Tunbridge had been in good form in the WAFL and the coaching staff expected them to answer the challenge thrown to them and seize their opportunities in the senior side.

"You never like to change your side too much," Longmuir said.

"The better sides are more settled. We've had a few injuries this week that have forced our hand but we also bring in some quality with Nic Naitanui coming back into the side. We feel that we'll be really competitive still."

Longmuir said though the next seven weeks weren't exactly make or break, the coaches would be looking at how the side's fringe players were developing and what their roles would be in the future.

"They need to show that they've improved," he said.

"Dom had his opportunity early on in the year and was the sub and probably didn't get a great opportunity. But he's been in good form at East Perth and we probably want to see that translate on the AFL field.

"I think every time you step out as an AFL player, what you dish up is important.

"Smithy has got his opportunity through good form, same as Callum Sinclair, same as Scott Lycett. We're pretty excited with how they can deliver on the AFL stage."

Cox flew to Brisbane with the squad in his role as ruck coach but Longmuir said the games record holder was feeling the effects of a brutal game against the Swans last week and was no chance of being a late inclusion.

"He wants to go into coaching when he's finished and our young rucks need some mentoring," Longmuir said.

The West Australian

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