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Eagles will be OK without me: Naitanui

AAP logoAAP 21/12/2016 Justin Chadwick

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui is confident the Eagles will be able to cope without him in 2017, saying the glut of midfield talent will carry the AFL club through.

Naitanui will miss most - if not all - of next season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in August.

The 26-year-old says his recovery is going well so far, and coach Adam Simpson is hopeful Naitanui will return by round 16.

Scott Lycett will also miss the start of the season with his own knee injury, robbing West Coast of their two best ruckmen.

Recruits Nathan Vardy and Drew Petrie will help fill the void, with journeyman Jonathan Giles the early favourite to lead the ruck.

The recruitment of Hawthorn premiership winner Sam Mitchell has added vital star power and stoppage talent to West Coast's midfield.

And Naitanui said the presence of players such as Luke Shuey, Matt Priddis, and Andrew Gaff meant West Coast's on-ball brigade would still be a powerful unit, even if they do get beaten in the ruck.

"I think whether we get it done by hand or not from the ruck perspective, the younger mids and the older mids will get it done I reckon," Naitanui said.

"We'll be right."

Naitanui says it's too early to put an exact date on his return, despite Simpson's hopes of it being in round 15 or 16.

"I think that's a date Simmo's thrown out," Naitanui said.

"I'll aim for around then. But we'll take it week by week and see how it's progressing.

"Myself and Scotty Lycett have been working pretty closely together. It's good to have a partner in rehab."

West Coast utility Simon Tunbridge underwent a hybrid LARS procedure earlier this week after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last week.

It's hoped he will be able to return within six months.

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