Nic Nat in frame as Gov exits hospital

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West Coast defender Jeremy McGovern is no certainty to play again this year following his painful rib injury, but ruckman Nic Naitanui could return as early as this week.

McGovern spent three nights in hospital before being released on Tuesday after breaking his ribs in Saturday's 18-point loss to Geelong.

The four-time All-Australian underwent surgery on Monday to have a plate inserted and no time frame has been set on his return.

West Coast (1-12) have nine games remaining this season.

But given the side sits at the bottom of the ladder with nothing but pride to play for, there's no urgency to rush McGovern back.

"It's significant damage, but he's in good health now. Now it's about recovery," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said on Tuesday.

"It will be a few weeks if he does come back. We won't know. We will probably know by the end of the week."

Naitanui hasn't played since injuring a medial ligament in his knee during the club's round-four win over Collingwood.

Although it's more likely Naitanui will return next week, Simpson has left the door ajar for this week.

"He's not far off. This week or next week," Simpson said.

"We'll see how training looks and then make a decision about whether he plays WAFL or goes straight back into the side.

"We'll see how he pulls up after today."

A host of West Coast players have been brought back through the WAFL this season and Simpson will strongly consider a similar path for Naitanui.

"Unfortunately this year we've had injuries that have been several weeks and there's a tipping point before you can come straight back in," Simpson said.

"Especially mid-season, when everyone is game ready and match hardened.

"To come straight back in is a challenge.

"I reckon eight players this year have come back off significant injuries and Nic will be another one.

"We are dealing with that case by case but understanding there's a certain level where you do need some touch at WAFL level."

West Coast could be boosted by the return of Tim Kelly, Liam Ryan and Samo Petrevski-Seton for Friday night's clash with Essendon at Optus Stadium.

All three players missed last week's loss to Geelong through illness and Simpson will assess them at training this week before making a call on their availability.

Simpson says Josh Kennedy will be managed at some stage in the back half of the season, but the 34-year-old forward will play against Essendon on Friday if he pulls up well from training.

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