West Coast's 21-year-old ruck tyro Scott Lycett is set to carry the club's short as well as longer- term hopes after Dean Cox was ruled out of tomorrow's clash with Adelaide.
Cox has lingering concussion issues from the hit Richmond's Ty Vickery delivered a week ago.
As coach Adam Simpson expressed hope and optimism the Eagles would secure Lycett to a contract before the end of the season, he said Cox would travel to Adelaide as a coach.
Lycett, Josh Hill, Jamie Cripps and Jamie Bennell were brought into the team, while Cox (concussion) and Brad Sheppard (ankle) were lost to injury and Simon Tunbridge and Ash Smith were dropped. Adelaide included midfielder Scott Thompson and dropped forward Tom Lynch.
Cox was still to pass a standard cognitive skills test in the wake of his concussion.
Lycett, who has played seven times this year and is averaging 12 possessions and 14 hit-outs a game, was ready to graduate into a full-time AFL footballer towards the end of his fourth season, according to Simpson.
"I reckon he has just about done his apprenticeship. He is just starting to have influence in games," he said.
"He had 10 possessions in the last quarter against Brisbane. He is just about ready to take that next step and obviously with Dean retiring that is an important step for us.
"I reckon he might be a little bit more advanced than the traditional ruckman. He is 21. Let's see what he is like at 25 or 26."
Lycett's development is a rare piece of good news for an Eagles team facing a growing injury list and a daunting task against the Crows.
Simpson confirmed Sharrod Wellingham (knee) and Sheppard were gone for the season. Elliot Yeo (hand) and Scott Selwood (ankle) were unlikely to return.
Simpson said there were now eight to 10 players who probably would not play again in 2014.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for a lot of our young players," he said.
"It is also a chance just to keep growing together. I don't think we have played in front of 50,000 this year. It is a hostile environment.
"It is another test for me as a coach but also for our players - how they can stand up under adversity."
"… he has just about done his apprenticeship. He is just starting to have influence in games."" *Adam Simpson *on Scott Lycett * *