Eagles in AFL finals mode already - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eagles in AFL finals mode already

By Justin Chadwick 15/08/2011 07:26:10 PM Comments (0)

West Coast ruckman Dean Cox says the Eagles will treat their last three games of the AFL season as if they're finals in order to leave the club in the best shape possible heading into September.

The Eagles will guarantee themselves a top-four finish, and the double finals chance that comes with it, should they defeat Essendon (home), Brisbane (away) and Adelaide (home) over the next three weekends.

Cox described competition for spots inside the top-eight as "cut-throat", and said the Eagles had little room for error.

"I think that to give yourself the best chance to have a successful year - and a successful year is to play a lot of finals games - I think you've got to finish top-four," Cox said on Monday.

"So that's our focus, to try and get ourselves in the best shape come the first final.

"We've got three weeks to really try and iron out all our little problems, really tweak with the game and make sure every player knows their role.

"Then come that first final we're ready to go."

Cox struggled through the win over Richmond a fortnight ago following a heavy knock to the midriff but moved freely in Sunday's 48-point victory over Melbourne.

The four-time All-Australian said his ribs and hip pulled up well from the Demons clash, leaving him in good shape for Saturday's encounter with Essendon in Perth.

"They have been a little bit sore, obviously from the Richmond game (in round 20), so I spoke to the docs last week and they gave me the all clear to play and I got through," Cox said on Monday.

"I had done some tests in the main session on Thursday, so everything was fine. I pulled up better than I did last week, which is pleasing."

Gun midfielder Luke Shuey was substituted in the last quarter against Melbourne and immediately applied ice to his hamstring, which was tight leading into the game.

But Cox said the 21-year-old had only been subbed off as a precaution and would be fit to face the Bombers.

"Therisk is so great that if something does happen then you miss a chunk of footy," Cox said.

"He'll be fine and he'll play this week.

"He's a very damaging player for us and hopefully he can continue to be so for the last three games and finals."

Shuey will cross paths with fellow AFL Rising Star aspirant and first-year Bombers defender Dyson Heppell, whose outstanding season has him a slight favourite to win the award over the third-year Eagle.

West Coast skipper Darren Glass will return against Essendon after being given a week's rest, while vice-captain Beau Waters is a strong chance to resume after missing two matches with an elbow complaint.

The fifth-placed Eagles sit just half a game adrift of fourth-placed Carlton, who have played an extra match and take on high-flying Hawthorn in a Friday night blockbuster at Etihad Stadium.

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