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Eagles won't be taking Port "pretenders" lightly

Football

West Coast midfielder Dom Sheed insists his team won't be fooled into complacency ahead of Sunday's AFL clash with under-fire Port Adelaide at Domain Stadium.

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Port Adelaide have been labelled pretenders in the wake of last week’s home loss to Richmond.

The Power are 0-5 against top-eight opposition this season, and coach Ken Hinkley admits they can’t hide away from the tag.

But Sheed is wary of the Power’s ability to crush sides when in full flight.

Port Adelaide have posted huge wins over Fremantle (89 points), Carlton (90), Brisbane (83), Gold Coast (72), and Hawthorn (51) this year.

The Eagles carried the tag of flat track bullies in recent seasons, and Sheed is well aware of how Power players will be gunning for redemption this weekend.

“We don’t read into that (pretenders tag) too much,” Sheed said.

“We know how dangerous Port Adelaide can be. We’re going to have to get it right, do our homework, and give it a crack.”

Sheed admits the Eagles were lucky to beat Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval in round seven.

In that game, Port Adelaide had 29 more inside 50s and won the clearance battle 44-35, but lost by 10 points.

West Coast are on a high after ending their Melbourne hoodoo with a seven-point win over the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Both the Eagles and Power have 8-6 records, and the winner of Sunday’s match will be in the thick of the battle for a top-four spot.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson faces some huge decisions on the selection front this week.

Skipper Shannon Hurn (concussion) and midfielder Matt Priddis (soreness) are set to return, while Josh Kennedy (calf), Jackson Nelson (hamstring), Josh Hill (illness), Mark LeCras (hip) and Will Schofield (hip) are also expected to be available.

Ruckman Scott Lycett also thrust himself into the selection mix with 67 hit-outs in the WAFL last weekend.

Sheed was dropped earlier this season after a run of poor form, but he has hit back with a vengeance over the past five weeks.

The 22-year-old has inked a new two-year deal with the club, and attributed his hot run of form to a more dedicated approach to the defensive side of his game.

“(I was doing) things like not pressing up, not finding an opponent, and moping around a little bit,” Sheed said.

Port Adelaide expect key defender Jack Hombscha – a late withdrawal from the Richmond loss – to recover from a knee injury in time for Sunday’s match.

Half-back Hamish Hartlett is also tipped to recover from a corked thigh and play against the Eagles, according to the club website.

But for the Crows, forward Tom Lynch appears unlikely to return from illness for Friday night’s AFL match against Western Bulldogs.

Lynch missed Adelaide’s win against Carlton after being hospitalised with viral meningitis last week.

“We just thought he was home sick and then obviously got the news that it was a bit more serious than that,” teammate Brodie Smith told reporters yesterday.

“But thankfully he’s back home now and hopefully here (the club) during the week and feeling a lot better.”

The Crows will be forced into at least one change for the Bulldogs fixture with defender Kyle Hartigan hurting a hamstring.

The extent of Hartigan’s injury is unknown but Smith said it appeared serious.

Adelaide retained second spot on the ladder with a gritty 12-point victory against Carlton – the first time the Crows have won this season when scoring fewer than 100 points.

-AAP

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