Eagles to go without experienced duo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eagles to go without experienced duo

By Leonard Siragusa 12/06/2008 08:20:33 PM Comments (0)

A short turnaround and the hard Telstra Dome surface means West Coast will favour youth over two established midfielders in Friday night's round 12 AFL opener against Essendon.

Premiership players Chad Fletcher (back) and Michael Braun (knee) failed to make the trip to Melbourne, with the club deciding to err on the side of caution with their injuries.

But the pair's absence against the Bombers will wipe off almost 400 AFL games of experience and will place further strain on a midfield still struggling to cope with the departures of Brownlow medallists Ben Cousins and Chris Judd.

Braun has played all 11 games this season and is averaging 19 disposals while Fletcher has averaged 24 possessions from his nine games this season.

But Eagles assistant coach Peter Sumich said the pair was rested given the club played last Saturday night.

"Chad Fletcher's form has been great and Michael Braun's has picked up over the last couple of weeks and body wise if they were 100 per cent to go they would be here, but their bodies are just a little bit off," Sumich said.

"Brauny has got a sore knee and we had it (a rest) really pencilled in for this game so he will be back next week."

"We just felt with him backing up in six days, we thought we would rest him and Chad Fletcher has had a back problem."

"Earlier in the year it came good but he has just stiffened up a bit now and we thought what with the plane trip (to Melbourne), we would rest him so he will be right for Geelong.

West Coast will again be without Ashley Hansen (corked buttock), despite him being earmarked to return earlier this week.

But fellow forward Mark LeCras will resume from a groin injury that had kept him on ice since round one.

Sumich hoped LeCras, who kicked 36 goals last year to be the team's second-highest goal kicker behind Quinten Lynch, would give the Eagles some much-needed firepower.

The Eagles average just 77 points per game this year - above only last-placed Melbourne.

"I think it (the Eagles' failure to kick high scores) has had a lot to do with different personnel rotating through there (the forward line) and we just haven't been settled down there," Sumich said.

Sumich was adamant the Eagles' wretched run with injury and by extension being forced to blood youngsters this season was a major factor behind the team's poor 2-9 win-loss record.

Essendon too are in a rebuilding phase and like West Coast have used 36 players this year because of an injury list as big as a hospital ward.

And the sorry tale has continued with Bachar Houli (groin), Jason Winderlich (back) and Tayte Pears (foot) out.

But midfielders Jobe Watson and Adam Ramanauskas will return.

Sumich said both sides would be evenly matched because of their injury woes but admitted the Bombers had a quality forward line despite Matthew Lloyd's recent form slump.

"They've got a similar side to us, but they've got a very good forward line still," he said.

"I still think Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas are great players and on their day can kick a winning score.

"Some of their younger kids have been great this year and they've had their ups and downs the same as us."

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