Elliot Yeo in play

Elliot Yeo in action (Source: @westcoasteagles/Twitter)

West Coast's star-studded but underdone midfield is working on building back up to full strength, with Elliot Yeo joining in for the ride.

They often say the game is won and lost in the middle, and this ran true last weekend as an underdone, but star-studded West Coast engine room, including Elliot Yeo, was comprehensively crushed by the Bulldogs’.

Many pundits claimed Elliot Yeo, Luke Shuey, and Tim Kelly’s limited game time was why West Coast plummeted so badly. Throw in the fact the trio hasn’t played together in nearly 12 months and two of them had just returned from injury, and that’s another factor to consider.

Speaking to the media on Friday, midfielder Elliot Yeo said he was working towards full game time after spending 286 days sidelined with osteitis pubis. However, he also said it was too early to determine whether he will reach 100 per cent game time this season.

“You’d like to try and aspire to get to 100 per cent game time, but at this stage it’s too early to say,” Yeo said.

“It’s pretty difficult to go from zero to 100 pretty quick, but for me, it will always be a slow build towards the back end of the season.

“I’ve had a good solid block of four weeks of training underneath my belt, then going into games.

“Still got plenty to work on and still have plenty left to give as well, so just got to try to manage it and look after it as best as possible.”

Being sidelined, understandably, would be a difficult task to navigate, not just for Yeo, who is four games into his 2021 season, but for the coaching staff, as he has the capacity to run and compete with the game’s finest.

Without someone to monitor them, they have more freedom to cause problems for West Coast and be too damaging for it to repair, like on the weekend.

Yeo runs both ways and plays a strong contested game, which has been match-winning in the past – such as against Richmond a few weeks ago. Since returning, he’s averaged 13 contested possessions, five tackles and 18 pressure acts, which really adds to areas lacking in West Coast’s games.

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The 27-year-old was held to 76 per cent game time, while his direct opponent Marcus Bontempelli ran wild, causing all kinds of headaches for West Coast.

“It gets pretty frustrating on the bench,” he said.

“You would like to go out there and get in towards the contest a bit more, but I guess it’s just where I’m at the moment and take it in my stride.”

“You want to help out the team as much as you can, but there are times and stints on the bench where I’m sitting there for long stints of time and it does get frustrating.”

While this may have contributed to the loss, this certainly doesn’t excuse it.

Yesterday, Adam Simpson said he expected the to group play much better this week, and minutes were not the issue.

“It’s not about minutes caps. It’s about playing out our best from the start,” he said.

That’s what the Eagles didn’t do. Play their best.

For comparison, Marcus Bontempelli, the Bulldogs’ best midfielder, had 29 disposals, 10 clearances, and seven tackles, while Jack Redden, the Eagles’ best, had 20, three, and six.

Despite being best on ground, Bontempelli wasn’t even their highest disposal getter. Bailey Smith had his best game of the season, and Jack Macrae was his usual ball magnet self.

Elliot Yeo called it an ‘extremely poor result’ and said his teammates are looking to improve and rectify the performance from last week against Sydney this week.

“We’ve done a review. We know where we let ourselves down and we’re looking to rectify that going into the game this weekend.

“[Sydney are] playing some really good football at the moment. They threw it out to Port Adelaide last week, so it’s going to be a tough game and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

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