West Coast coach Adam Simpson predicts Scott Lycett will become a critical component of the club’s AFL future, but the Eagles face a fight to retain the talented 21-year-old.
Port Adelaide are rumoured to be interested in luring Lycett their way, while other clubs are also starting to circle the out-of-contract South Australian.
Lycett and Callum Sinclair have struggled for opportunities this season behind star pair Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui.
But with Cox at the tail-end of his glittering career and question marks still hovering over Naitanui’s body, the Eagles are desperate to retain Lycett.
However, Simpson will find it tough to keep all four of his ruckmen happy.
Lycett produced the best fortnight of his fledgling AFL career in recent wins over Gold Coast and GWS.
But the 203cm ruckman has been dropped for Saturday’s derby against Fremantle in Perth in order to accommodate the return of Cox, who was rested for the previous two weeks.
Cox is yet to announce whether he’ll play on next season.
That decision could influence whether Lycett stays at West Coast or seeks opportunities elsewhere.
Simpson said Lycett’s omission this week was more about managing his body rather than a selection snub.
“We feel he’s a critical part of our future,” Simpson said on Friday.
“Hopefully he’s not seeing this as a demotion. This is part of a management and I’m sure he sees it in the right light.
“We’ve got big plans for him and we want him as part of our club and he understands and hopefully I’ve explained it well enough.
“No one wants to sit aside … but his body needs to be managed just as much as the others.
“He’s 21, so hopefully it’s just a part of his apprenticeship.
“It’s a good problem to have, having three and potentially four ruckman who are AFL standard.”
The Eagles sit two wins adrift of eighth spot and can ill afford a fifth-straight loss to the Dockers.
Fremantle haven’t lost a derby since round nine, 2012, but a recent spate of injuries in defence will test their mettle.
Already without Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson, the Dockers were dealt a fresh blow this week when Alex Silvagni was ruled out due to a rib injury.
That left Zac Dawson as the only established key backman in the side, with the likes of Garrick Ibbotson (186cm), Paul Duffield (188cm) and Chris Mayne (188cm) in line to get key defensive jobs.
Eagles spearheads Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Jeremy McGovern will be licking their lips at the prospect of taking advantage of Fremantle’s undersized defence.