West Coast coach Adam Simpson says he'll keep a close eye on Oscar Allen as the sore swingman navigates his way through the first major form slump of his young AFL career.
Allen has become West Coast's Mr Fix-it since being drafted with pick No.21 in 2017, alternating between the forward line, defence, and back-up ruck duties.
There have been numerous games where Allen has performed all three roles, but his form has dipped dramatically in recent weeks.
Allen has averaged just 7.2 possessions over his past four games and managed only 3.3 across that period.
In last week's eight-point win over St Kilda, Allen kicked 0.1 from five disposals in one of the quietest displays of his 55-game career.
Allen will line up in Saturday's clash with Collingwood at the MCG, but the exact role he will play remains to be seen.
Simpson says he and his fellow coaches often talk about whether they need to start settling Allen into a position rather than continually switching him to different areas of the field.
"It's a good conversation that one," Simpson said.
"That's the challenge for us. Do you get him in as a second ruck and play a bit smaller? Or play a bit taller (with two rucks)? You're either really tall, or maybe a bit undersized.
"We're working through that."
Four-time All-Australian defender Jeremy McGovern performed the role of back-up ruckman last week, and it could be something that continues in order to ease the burden on Allen.
Allen was forced to wear a full-length arm brace when not training or playing earlier this season in order to manage an elbow injury.
He has also battled several other niggling injuries.
"There's strapping everywhere," Simpson said.
"The two (recent) six-day breaks were a challenge. There were conversations about does he need a rest.
"But he got through it, and his body is feeling as good as he has been.
"These are the type of things you've got to work through as a young player coming through. There is a limit as well. We've got an eye on him, we don't want him to do everything for everyone."
West Coast will start hot favourites against Collingwood in a match that will mark the 300-game milestone of Eagles defender Shannon Hurn.
The 33-year-old, who relinquished the captaincy at the end of 2019, appears certain to earn a one-year contract extension due to his strong form.
"He's a legacy player for us," Simpson said.
"He'll be remembered forever at this club - premiership captain. I think his form has been as good as it's been for 10 years."
Australian Associated Press