West Coast coach Adam Simpson is optimistic Luke Shuey will play on next year despite the captain's injury troubles.
Shuey has been plagued by hamstring injuries over the past three years, with the North Smith medallist restricted to just 25 games since the start of 2020.
The 226-game veteran turns 32 next week and he is out of contract at the end of the year.
Shuey is widely tipped to hand over the captaincy at the end of this year, but Simpson is keen for the star midfielder to play on.
"I think there's still a lot of football left in Luke. He's doing everything he can to get a routine that makes him available consistently," Simpson said.
"Hopefully he can finish off the year and onward we go, because he's definitely got the motivation and fitness, it's just getting that body consistently available for us."
Shuey's future was put in the spotlight last week when he was subbed off with a back injury during the 52-point loss to GWS, with some fearing it was another sign his body could no longer handle the rigours of AFL.
But the injury turned out to be nothing more than tightness, and Shuey has been cleared to play in Saturday night's clash with the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium.
"Look, I can understand the headlines, but there was nowhere near that type of panic from our end, especially when I heard it was just his back getting tight," Simpson said.
"But every move he makes is scrutinised, and that's OK. He's gone through a lot. I don't think he was too worried about the public perception knowing that it was OK."
The Bulldogs have won three of their past four matches to even their season ledger at 5-5.
They will return to Optus Stadium for the first time since last year's 74-point grand final loss to Melbourne.
"I feel like they're back to their best," Simpson said.
"Their strength is across their midfield. Their run, their ability to defend the ground is really sharp.
"And you can't get the ball off them. They're in pretty good nick."
The Bulldogs have been bolstered by the return of ruckman Tim English and Taylor Duryea from the flu, while Cody Weightman is back after three weeks out with a broken collarbone.
West Coast welcome back veteran Josh Kennedy (knee) and Samo Petrevski-Seton.
Australian Associated Press
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