Ex-Lion Witherden ready for Eagles debut

Ex-Brisbane defender Alex Witherden will play his first match for West Coast against Collingwood.
Ex-Brisbane defender Alex Witherden will play his first match for West Coast against Collingwood.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson is putting his faith in former Brisbane defender Alex Witherden to fill the void left by injured star Shannon Hurn.

Hurn will miss Friday night's AFL clash with Collingwood after injuring his calf in the opening quarter of last week's loss to St Kilda.

West Coast gave up their third-round pick and a future third-round selection to secure the services of Witherden, who played 59 games across four seasons at the Lions.

Witherden was initially considered a strong chance to break into West Coast's side from round one this year, but an underwhelming pre-season saw him slide in the pecking order.

Hurn's injury has opened the door for Witherden to make his Eagles debut, and Simpson is confident the 22-year-old will be a good fit.

"He had a different role at Brisbane, so he has to work out what our way is. But essentially he's a good footballer and he's got a good footy brain," Simpson said.

"He uses the ball pretty well, so we see him, over time, really fitting in well with what we do.

"(With) Shannon going out of the side, Alex is a really good replacement."

The Magpies will enter the match without star midfielder Taylor Adams, who will miss about 10 weeks with a knee injury.

Finlay Macrae will make his AFL debut.

Collingwood are in early trouble at 1-3, with the pressure firmly on coach Nathan Buckley to turn around their ailing fortunes.

The Eagles are also desperate for a win after coughing up a 33-point lead in last week's upset 20-point loss to St Kilda.

Simpson is expecting Collingwood to come out firing.

"They've got plenty of resolve, Collingwood. Over the journey they have faced more scrutiny than anyone and they travel really well," Simpson said.

"There's no illusions about what's happening this weekend. It's game on."

West Coast could recall Xavier O'Neill to help boost a midfield unit that was over-run against the Saints.

Captain Luke Shuey (hamstring surgery) won't return until after the mid-season bye, while Elliot Yeo (osteitis pubis) is still a few weeks away.

Australian Associated Press