Star West Coast recruit Sam Mitchell is making a rapid recovery from an ankle injury in time for what looms as an emotional first outing against his old club Hawthorn in Melbourne on Sunday.
Mitchell and Eagles coach Adam Simpson are expected to make an early call on whether the highly-decorated former superstar Hawk will be fit to take on his four-time premiership teammates at the MCG.
West Coast is also likely to get Jack Darling back from an ankle injury.
The big forward missed last Thursday’s win over Sydney in Perth with strained tendons in his left ankle he suffered in the team’s round three loss to Richmond in Melbourne.
Simpson said in his weekly Channel Seven interview on Monday night his gun recruit was “touch and go” to play his first game against his old club since his shock trade last October just days after winning his fifth Hawks club champion award.
Simpson said the 10-day break between last Thursday, when Mitchell was kicked in the lower left leg by a swinging foot from teammate Jack Redden, and Sunday’s crucial clash could significantly aid Mitchell’s recovery.
The four-time Hawks premiership midfielder is understood to have undertaken extensive treatment over the Easter weekend, including hourly icing of his lower leg as well as hobbling around on crutches to reduce weight on his injury.
Mitchell reported substantial improvement to Simpson on Monday afternoon.
“He was in doubt over the weekend,” Simpson disclosed.
“But he’s pulled up really well. The 10-day break is really going to help him.
“I don’t think we’ll play any games… If he’s not right we’ll declare it as early as we can.
“But I do want to give him as much time as I can.”
Simpson admitted Sunday’s showdown with Mitchell’s accomplished teammates could prove substantially emotional for the 34-year-old.
“I don’t want to overplay it,” Simpson said.
“It will be a big moment for him.”
Simpson and his Eagles also confront an alarmingly poor win-loss record at football headquarters where premierships are decided.
West Coast has a 38 per cent winning ratio at the “G” after 30 wins and 48 losses.
Since Simpson took over in 2014, the Eagles have notched three wins from eight trips, including successive losses to the Hawks, both by 46 points, in the 2015 Grand Final and last year’s round two re-match.
“More importantly it’s a big moment… travelling to the MCG again and playing a team that is on the ropes,” Simpson said.
“We know how important the game is for both clubs.”