Kennedy set to miss two rounds

13 March 2018 04:03:27 EST

Spearhead Josh Kennedy will miss the start of the season for West Coast Eagles, leaving coach Adam Simpson to take a raw forward line into the clash with Sydney Swans.

Kennedy's not likely to be available until the Eagles take on Geelong at Optus Stadium in round three as he needs more time, following ankle surgery in December.

The absence of the 30-year-old, who has been West Coast's leading goalkicker in six out of the last seven seasons, will be a blow.

They misfired without him in Sunday's JLT Community Series clash with Fremantle where they kicked just five goals.

"We've just got to get through training, it's been pulling up really well," said Kennedy. "Fitness is getting there; I've just got to keep increasing the training loads."

The Eagles midfield was overrun by Fremantle but could be strengthened for the season-opener by the return of star ruckman Nic Naitanui following a knee reconstruction.

He played his first competitive game in nearly 19 months at the weekend when he played for East Perth.

Simpson said of Naitanui: "He had no issues with the knee, no swelling, so we'll just have to assess how he travels throughout the week and see what we do in the following weeks.

"He covered a fair bit of distance, I think he played 50 or 60 minutes, but we just have to see what we do to progress, maybe, round one."

Liam Ryan, who has played in all three pre-season games, could make his debut in round one though Willie Rioli is in doubt after rolling his ankle against Fremantle.

West Coast are 1/1 to win their season-opener against Sydney, who are 1/1.

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