Sheppard, 30, has suffered from repeated head knocks and ensuing concussive symptoms across the course of his 12-season career, with the latter bringing his most recent year to a premature close.
After suffering delayed symptoms following a knock in West Coasts' Round 22 Derby loss to Fremantle, Sheppard was forced to watch on from the stands as the Eagles failed in their bid to secure a finals berth the very next week in Brisbane.
Nasty collision between Brad Sheppard and Adam Saad 💥 Here is hoping everyone is okay!
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) June 6, 2021
While the details of tests run on Sheppard are yet to have been relayed, Channel 7 reporter Mark Readings has claimed a diagnosis is imminent.
Could the Eagles be without Brad Sheppard next season? It's a live possibility.
— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) November 24, 2021
“I think we all agree he’s an elite footballer and has been for some time, but my information coming out of the club and around football circles that he is just days away from finding out whether he will be playing in 2022 off the back of concussion issues he’s had throughout the latter part of the year,” Readings relayed on SEN Sportsday WA.
Citing the fact that recent trends suggested the Eagle could have his wings clipped ahead of his return to pre-season training, Readings suggested it appeared likely Sheppard would sit out the entirety of next season.
“Medicos are becoming more and more vigilant in regards to the health and safety of players," he continued.
"I think Eagles supporters and Brad Sheppard and indeed the club will be bracing for the fact that he may not be out there next year off the back of a medical decision which would deem him unhealthy to play in 2022.
“This is not a fact, but it is certainly a concern for the Eagles and Brad Sheppard moving forward. It’s a big story if it does come to pass.”
Sitting across the desk from Readings, former Docker Paul Hasleby explained that as West Coast's roster was aging, there remained a real possibility that the former top-10 draftee would remain on the club's list.
"He has been a great player and he will be 31 in May, 12 months off, given the demographic of the Eagles squad, they do have to let some of their older players go and they opted to keep Shannon Hurn and perhaps that’s one of the reasons," the 2000 Rising Star winner pontificated.
“Perhaps they didn’t want to lose Sheppard and Hurn at the same time given how good they are in the backline."
Hasleby then went on to raise an array of names that could fill Sheppard's boots for Adam Simpson in 2022.
“From an Eagles standpoint, it’s not going to be the be-all and end-all, but what a career it’s been.”
Should his results return bearing bad news, Sheppard will need to draw on the same reserves of resilience that saw him through the Eagles' successful September in 2018.
The Perth-born backman missed out on a place in the club's fourth premiership team after suffering a hamstring injury sustained during West Coast's qualifying final win over Collingwood.