West Coast swingman Oscar Allen has backed veteran forward Josh Kennedy to overcome a disrupted pre-season and come out firing in round one.
Kennedy missed both of the club’s pre-season games due to a calf injury, but is set to be thrown into the cauldron for Sunday’s season-opener against Gold Coast at Optus Stadium.
The 33-year-old has a knack of performing well after injury breaks, and Allen is backing history to repeat itself.
“He looks really sharp,” Allen said.
“For my whole time at the club he hasn’t been available for pre-season, and then round one comes along and he’s performing at his best as he always does. We have a lot of faith in him.
“He’s one of the best forwards of our generation. So any time we have him out there, we’re pretty grateful.”
The Eagles are set to experiment with a three-pronged tall forward line featuring Kennedy (196cm), Allen (194cm), and Jack Darling (191cm).
Ruckmen Nic Naitanui and Nathan Vardy are also expected to spend time down there.
Allen is one of West Coast’s brightest rising stars, but he is yet to find a permanent position in the team, switching between defence, attack, and the ruck.
With the Eagles set to field two specialist ruckmen this season, Allen has the chance to spend more time up forward.
The 21-year-old said he was happy to switch roles depending on what the team needs.
“I know being a younger player you’ve probably got to play whatever role the side needs, and I enjoy that,” Allen said.
“For a long period of time it’s kept me in the side.
“In 2019 there were times I probably could have gone out of the side, but my versatility allowed me to keep playing.
“I’m not quick to forget the faith the coaching staff put into me.”
West Coast will be without star midfielders Elliot Yeo (osteitis pubis) and Luke Shuey (hamstring) for the start of the season.
No timeline has been set for Yeo’s return, but the Eagles hope Shuey will be back by round three.
West Coast copped a 44-point thumping from the Matt Rowell-inspired Suns last season, and Allen said his team needs to be on guard in the rematch.