WEST Coast captain Luke Shuey is confident the club's young players can still develop in a season that has included uncompetitive performances, with the experience potentially fast-tracking their progress.
The Eagles have now lost eight consecutive matches, including triple-figure defeats against Carlton and fellow struggler Hawthorn, as they manage an injury crisis for the second straight year.
Shuey compared the experience for the club's recent draftees to his own as a new Eagle in 2010, with the club winning just four games and losing 13 of its last 14 under John Worsfold.
Shuey, who played the first six games of his career that season, said this year's experience would be building resilience in the young Eagles rather than proving detrimental to their development.
"A lot of us have been through it, back in 2010. One of my most vivid memories from my 14-year career was down at Kardinia Park in round 22, 2010," he said.
"We were playing against Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, Corey Enright, Matthew Scarlett, Cameron Ling … guys who were just at the top of their game.
"As a young guy and being exposed to that first-hand, you learn things without knowing you're learning them … it arms you with an element of resilience.
"Reuben Ginbey, (Campbell) Chesser, (Brady) Hough, these guys are going to be so much better in the long run. Although we'd love it not to be happening, they're going to be better when our backs are against the wall and those guys are 24-25 years old."
Shuey conceded the 17th-placed Hawks were a different proposition to the 2010 Cats, who won 18 games and reached a preliminary final, and he understood fan frustration at Saturday's result against the team the Eagles have replaced at the bottom of the ladder.
It was a difficult match for the midfielder to watch from the sidelines as he draws closer to returning from a hamstring injury in the next fortnight, but the 32-year-old remained confident the club was on the right track.
"Sometimes people want to see us really flat after those games, but I can assure everyone that it means a lot to lose like that and we're hurting," the Norm Smith medallist said.
"We've been hurting all year and we're not satisfied with where we're at.
"That was another punch while we're down on the weekend, but we're working hard to turn things around and start getting some wins.
"We took a big step backwards on the weekend, (but) in the bigger scheme of things we still believe we're on the right track and we're confident we're going to get there sooner than what a lot of people are saying."
Asked how he felt about a growing chorus of critics calling for personnel change at the club, Shuey said the Eagles remained "fully confident with who we're got here" and the criticism had no impact internally.
He underlined his support for premiership coach Adam Simpson, who is contracted through to the end of 2025.
On his own future, Shuey said he was only focused on returning against either Collingwood in round 12, or Adelaide the following week, and putting a block of games together in the second half of the year.
The midfielder hoped more pressure would start to emerge on senior players to hold their spots once the club has more players to select from.
"I think with the talent we've got in over the last few years, there's certainly a bit more pressure on us old blokes to either deliver or start stepping aside for some young boys," Shuey said.
"In all honesty I think that would be great if our young mids, some key backs and a couple of forwards bob up in the next six, 12, 18 months and start producing some footy we can't say no to.
"That's going to be really helpful for the club, and that's on us as leaders to develop these kids so that happens sooner rather than later.
"Everyone has got a use by date, so we'll see what happens.”