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Friday, August 10, 2018

Fringe midfielder Dom Sheed’s big task at West Coast

West Coast midfielder Dom Sheed has a massive opportunity to bed down a spot in the midfield for the finals after being named as Andrew Gaff’s replacement for the clash with Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval tomorrow.
As Port swung the axe in stunning fashion, dropping Sam Powell-Pepper, Riley Bonner and Jack Hombsch for Dougal Howard, Aidyn Johnson and Sam Gray, West Coast included Sheed and former Powermidfielder Brendon Ah Chee for the suspended Gaff and Will Schofield (hamstring).
The selections mean a likely shuffle of the Eagles line-up, with Tom Barrass returning to defence to play on Charlie Dixon, Ah Chee playing in attack and Sheed assuming Gaff’s prolific midfield role.
Coach Adam Simpson said the Eagles needed to find a “different way” and Sheed would get an opportunity to re-establish himself.
Sheed has played only 12 games this year, denied oppor-tunity because of a change in structure, Simpson confirmed yesterday.
“We don’t play as many mids,” Simpson said. “We have got a different make-up to our side and we declared it from the start and we declared it pre-season.
“The squeeze was on and someone was going to miss out and Dom was the one.
“He has had a few chances and some he has taken and some he hasn’t. If he plays this weekend it will be another opportunity.”
Simpson is loath to shift Liam Duggan or Lewis Jetta from a settled defence which points to Sheed, a left-footer like Gaff, slipping into the role.
“It will be a different-looking midfield without Andrew,” Simpson said. “We have had him for so long. He has played a lot of games for us. We have got to find a different way.”
Simpson backed his team’s resolve in trying to cement a top-four berth.
“They have been through a bit this year, our boys, and managed to stay on task,” he said.
“There is plenty of resolve within the group, a really good sense of unity among our players. I think it has won us some games this year. I can’t see why that would change.
“This weekend there are a lot of season-defining games. We want top four, preferably top two. For us to do that we need to knock over Port. For Port to finish top four they need to knock us over. I think there are a few games like that this week.
“That is why we exist, these types of games.
“At their best Port are as good as anyone with the talent they have brought in this year. We know they are a pretty tough, hard, contested-football team and they have got some real high-end talent.”