Fringe Eagles set for AFL selection battle - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fringe Eagles set for AFL selection battle

Justin Chadwick 02/09/2011 01:21:09 PM Comments (0)

Fringe West Coast midfielders Chris Masten and Patrick McGinnity will be desperate to prove they deserve to be part of the Eagles' AFL finals campaign when they line up against Adelaide at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.

Masten, who has been in and out of the side all year through injuries and poor form, played arguably the best game of his career in last week's eight-point win over Brisbane, tallying 31 possessions and booting three goals.

McGinnity, who hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons last month for his "rape" sledge towards Melbourne's Ricky Petterd, has notched 15 games this season but is also yet to cement his spot in the side.

Key midfielder Daniel Kerr is almost certain to return for next week's qualifying final against Collingwood at the MCG, meaning the axe is likely to fall on either Masten or McGinnity after this week.

Eagles coach John Worsfold is confident the best is still yet to come from Masten, who was snared with pick No.3 in the 2007 national draft.

"Chris is still a young player and his 50 games have been fairly broken (up through injuries). So I still expect there's a lot more room for improvement in his game," Worsfold said.

While McGinnity and Masten are fighting to retain their spots, the fate of fellow young midfielders Scott Selwood and Andrew Gaff are far more secure.

Selwood has enjoyed a breakout year as the club's primary tagger, averaging an astonishing 8.3 tackles a game to go with a handy disposal average of 18.4.

"He only turned 21 at the start of the season, so there's still upside with Scott as well," Worsfold said.

"He's an intense in-close player, so he certainly lays a number of tackles and generally they're pretty solid."

Gaff, snared with pick No.4 in last year's national draft, has been a revelation for the Eagles in the second half of the season, with the 19-year-old averaging 26.6 possessions in his past five games.

"We think he's got to this stage of the year without being overworked," Worsfold said.

"He didn't get a lot of ground time in the first half of the year and missed a few games with his sore hamstring, so we think he's in his prime fitness right now."

The good news continued to flow for fourth-placed West Coast, with the club re-signing veteran Andrew Embley for another season and locking in key forwards Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling until the end of 2014.

Darling, who has missed the past two weeks with a leg injury, was recalled for the Crows clash along with fit-again defender Sam Butler.

Adelaide recalled Richard Tambling, Michael Doughty, Ian Callinan and Ricky Henderson for Jack Gunston (shoulder), Andy Otten (concussion), Brodie Martin (groin) and Aidan Riley (dropped).

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