West Coast defender Jeremy McGovern could miss rest of AFL season through injury

Badly broken ribs that required surgery for one West Coast star could mean a long time on the sidelines.

Jeremy McGovern’s broken ribs could be severe enough to sideline the superstar West Coast defender for the rest of the season as the Eagles eye off a decision on the return of ruckman Nic Naitanui.

Midfielder Tim Kelly is set to play in Friday’s clash with Essendon as West Coast looks to end a club record nine-game losing streak.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson revealed McGovern, a four-time All-Australian, was finally out of hospital on Tuesday, three days after sustaining broken ribs against Geelong at Optus Stadium.

McGovern had surgery to insert a plate into his ribs, but Simpson couldn’t confirm if his key defender would be back this season to help the 1-11 Eagles, having done “significant damage”.

“I think he’s out of hospital so he’s now in recovery mode,” Simpson said on Tuesday.

“He’s done significant damage but he’s in good health now so it’s about recovery.”

Simpson said McGovern would be at least a few weeks away from any sort of return and was no certainty to play again this season.

“It’ll be a few weeks if he does come back,” he said.

“We’ll probably know by the end of the week. I haven’t seen the full report yet.”

But while the immediate future for McGovern remains clouded, Naitanui is closing in on a comeback from a knee injury and could even play this week, with Simpson unsure whether the ruckman would return through the AFL or WAFL.

West Coast plays Essendon on Friday night and the coach said it could be a Thursday decision.

“He’s not far off, it’ll be this week or next week,” Simpson said of Naitanui.

“We’ve got training today so we’ll see how that looks and we’ll make a decision whether he’ll play WAFL or go straight back into the side.

“We’ll see how he pulls up after training today.”

Simpson has shown a preference to run his players through the WAFL this season, with dual All-Australian Elliot Yeo and premiership heroes Willie Rioli, Dom Sheed and Liam Ryan all coming back to the AFL team though the reserves after long stints out.

“There’s a tipping point before you can come straight back in, especially mid-season when everyone is game ready … to come straight back in is a challenge,” Simpson said.

“Eight players have come back off significant injuries and Nic is one. Dealing with that case by case but understanding you do some form at WAFL or at least some touch.”


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