Nowhere to hide for under-fire Eagles

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Premiership coach Adam Simpson has defended West Coast's perceived lack of fitness as the Eagles attempt to avoid another Friday night AFL horror show.

West Coast's ageing list has been plagued by injuries and COVID-19 this year, with the team sitting in the wooden spoon mix at 1-5.

Two weeks ago when West Coast hosted Sydney in the prime-time Friday night slot, the Eagles trailed 56-0 before registering their first score midway through the second term.

West Coast have the chance to atone for that flop when they host Richmond at a back-to-full capacity Optus Stadium on Friday night.

The injury and COVID dramas that have plagued the club have forced Simpson to recall a host of senior players this season when they were still underdone.

Midfield bull Elliot Yeo, captain Luke Shuey, goalsneak Jamie Cripps, vaccine-hesitant forward Jack Darling and Jack Redden are among players who have struggled at times this year.

Simpson says he understands the criticism levelled at the club in regards to the fitness of players, but he doesn't feel like standards have slipped within the team.

"Going into pre-season for us we were really happy with our fitness," he said.

"I think we had 17 PBs in our time trials and we were in really good shape.

"We've had 20-plus injuries since then and 23 players have had COVID, and we're working really hard to get that fitness back."

West Coast have been bolstered by the return of star defender Jeremy McGovern (COVID protocols) against the Tigers, while mature-age recruit Greg Clark has been named for his AFL debut.

Andrew Gaff, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury since round three, could be named as the sub given he's not ready for a full AFL game.

Yeo will miss with concussion, while ruckman Bailey Williams was forced out with a hamstring injury.

The Tigers (2-4) welcomed back co-captain Dylan Grimes, Kane Lambert, Sydney Stack, Maurice Rioli Jnr and ruckman Ivan Soldo.

Veterans Trent Cotchin and Robbie Tarrant were rested given the five-day turnaround and long trip west, while Dustin Martin is on track to return against Collingwood next week.

West Coast have lost seven of their past eight games at Optus Stadium and Simpson acknowledged the importance of turning those woes around, especially on the Friday night stage.

Stopping opposition run-ons is also a big focus.

"We've been disappointing in patches where it looks like an avalanche," Simpson said.

"We've got to find a way to get out of that.

"We want to make our home ground a real fortress. We want to make it a really difficult ground to play in.

"At the moment travelling to play West Coast at home may not feel as daunting as it used to. That doesn't mean it can't change quickly."

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