WEST Coast’s top-two aspirations have suffered a major blow, with star ruckman Nic Naitanui facing an extended period on the sidelines after suffering an ankle syndesmosis injury in just his third game back from his second knee reconstruction.
The 29-year-old is still waiting on the result of scans before the club can put a definitive timeframe on his return.
“It is an ankle syndesmosis injury, but we are waiting on a medical report to shed more light on the precise nature of the problem and the way forward,” said Eagles football manager Craig Vozzo.
“We expect he will miss an extended period, but cannot put a timeframe on that until we have more information.”
Naitanui required attention on his ankle in the early stages of last Friday night’s heart-breaking one-point loss to Collingwood, which has resulted in West Coast being dragged back into the dogfight for the top four.
Speaking on Saturday, coach Adam Simpson was doubtful that Naitanui would be available for the trip to Alice Springs to take on Melbourne.
“I’m not sure. He’s the one who had a bit of a knock to the ankle or landed a bit awkwardly,” Simpson said.
“He actually did a really good job for us to get through the game. He probably wasn’t right after the, you know when (Jeremy) McGovern got hurt in the first-quarter, there was a collision, Nic was part of that.”
“From then on, he was pretty brave just to get out there.”
The Eagles will have to replace small forward Jamie Cripps (adductor), with emerging tall Jake Waterman (six goals) and speedster Jack Petruccelle (five) putting their hands up in the convincing 69-point win over West Perth.
West Coast slipped from second to fourth after losing to Collingwood and are only a game clear of a resurgent Richmond outfit with six matches remaining in the home-and-away season.