Kennedy a welcome AFL problem for Eagles

The return of West Coast AFL forward Josh Kennedy has presented a problem for Adam Simpson, and the fifth-year coach is thanking his lucky stars.

Josh Kennedy will make his AFL return for West Coast against Gold Coast.

Josh Kennedy will make his AFL return for West Coast against Gold Coast.

Kennedy missed the opening three rounds of the season after undergoing ankle surgery, but he will be back for Saturday night's clash with Gold Coast at Optus Stadium.

His return has helped to offset the loss of star goalsneak Liam Ryan, who has been ruled out for 12 weeks, also with a serious ankle injury.

Kennedy has been a focal point in the Eagles' forward line for much of the past 10 years, booting 508 goals for the club.

His presence gives West Coast a proven target in attack to kick to.

But Simpson is urging his players not to become too focused on Kennedy, with Jack Darling, veteran Mark LeCras and first-year forward Jake Waterman also good targets.

"He doesn't play for Coleman medals. He just wants to win," Simpson said of Kennedy.

"Him kicking a bag helps, but we've got to spread the load a bit.

"We've seen some really good growth in that area this year, so that's a challenge for us - can we continue to do that with someone with that much presence in our front half?

"It's a good problem to have. Getting the chemistry right is something that might take a bit of time."

LeCras will celebrate his 200-game milestone, while Nic Naitanui will earn life membership with his 150th game.

Naitanui has been in hot form for the Eagles since returning for a knee reconstruction.

Suns coach Stuart Dew said it was vital for his team's midfield to nullify Naitanui's influence by reading some of his taps.

But he said his midfield needed to have a balance.

"Watching the hands (of Naitanui) is a key thing ... and watching where the bounce goes," Dew said.

"It's a bit like cricket - if you premeditate hitting over the bowler's head, and then they drop it in shorter, you'll be in a bit of trouble. We just like our players to play it on its merits."

The Suns stayed in Perth after last week's 28-point loss to Fremantle, and Dew said it had been a good bonding experience.

Star midfielder Pearce Hanley (dislocated shoulder) will be ruled out for an extended period, with 20-year-old Jack Bowes named as his replacement.

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