West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy could miss up to three weeks with a hairline fracture near his right knee, Adam Simpson has confirmed.
The injury setback comes as a blow for the Eagles on the eve of tomorrow night’s blockbuster against Essendon, with Jack Darling (ankle) still at least a fortnight away.
Kennedy, who required painkilling injections to the leg after receiving a knock late in the game against Sydney last week, is expected to miss one to three weeks.
“We were going to try to get him up and give him every chance but there is just a tiny little hairline fracture in the side of his leg,” Simpson said.
“I don’t think it is a significant injury but it is enough to keep him out this week. We will see how long he is out for but I don’t think it is a long-term thing at all.
“He did it late in the quarter and he came back on. We just wanted to let everything settle before we made a decision on it but he is not going to come up for this week so we have got to get on with life without JK or Jack Darling.
“The leg still really hasn’t settled down from the weekend and that is the reason why we are making him unavailable.”
Kennedy, who has booted 29 goals in nine appearances this season after missing the first three weeks with an ankle issue, had originally believed the injury to be a “big corky”.
“It’s going to push it I suppose; the six-day break probably doesn’t help as well,” Kennedy told 6PR yesterday.
“I just got a bit of a knock to the leg. It’s pretty much just a big corky.”
The Eagles are yet to play a game without both Kennedy and Darling in the line-up since the latter’s debut in 2011.
Simpson was not prepared to declare who would take Kennedy’s place in the team. Fraser McInnes, Nathan Vardy and Oscar Allen are contenders but the Eagles also have to weigh up whether Jarrod Brander gets another opportunity. The debutant had just five disposals against the Swans.
“We have to find a way,” Simpson said. “It has been a long time. Someone mentioned it might have been 2011 since we didn’t have one of them (Kennedy and Darling).
“Every club goes through injuries and it is our turn at the moment. That combined with some real youth in our front half – it will be a challenge for us. We have got to find a different way to score and maintain the pressure and play their roles.
“Replacing Kennedy and Darling is difficult but we have got to find a way.”
Defender Tom Barrass is expected to miss again with a back problem, but veteran Will Schofield is available to play in defence after the birth of his first child last weekend.
West Coast faces a testing run over the coming weeks, with the Bombers clash followed by a trip to face the Crows in Adelaide before a home date with GWS.