Experienced ruckman Stefan Martin could return to availability this week, with senior coach Luke Beveridge saying he will be in consideration to line up against Port Adelaide on Friday night.
Martin has not been seen at AFL level since round 12, firstly due to a shoulder injury and then a persistent hip and groin issue.
Beveridge said while Martin has progressed well in recovery, whether they’ll elect to bring him straight back in for the high stakes match is yet to be decided.
“The confidence level in a player that has been out as long as Stef – regardless of how experienced he is – you couldn’t say you were convinced just yet,” Beveridge told media before training on Wednesday morning.
“You’d like to see (how he goes) in a game in the middle of the year, where everything necessarily isn’t on the line, in comparison to this week.
“We think he’s going to be available – today is an important session for him, and his name, his magnet and the prospect of him coming into the team will be talked about.”
After kicking just five goals – from only 35 inside 50s – against Hawthorn last week, the Bulldogs may consider making further changes to their forward line, which was dealt a blow after losing Josh Bruce to an ACL injury against Essendon.
Beveridge confirmed Port Adelaide’s line-up will also have some bearing on how the Dogs choose to go at the selection table.
Emerging key forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan could be a chance to return, after being managed last week.
“I think the good thing for us as a football club, is that we’ll have a lot of players on the track today, and from a health-wise (perspective), that’s a real positive,” Beveridge said.
“Marra’s physically okay – he’s had a look at the competition, and we’ve seen some of his gifts and his talent come to the fore in some of his games. We’ve now got to work out whether or not he’s ready for some of these big games and finals.
“It’s not always as simple as one out, one in…we’re trying to stabilise things (up forward), and we can’t necessarily say we’ve nailed that yet. Whether we will or not remains to be seen.
“The ruck consideration is important, but (so is) the key forward aspect of what we do, and particularly against Port Adelaide – they seem to be fielding a pretty big team at the moment.
“If (Scott) Lycett plays as well, they’re quite tall in their front end, so we’ve got to consider that as well with our selection.”
The Bulldogs will confirm their team of 22 and four emergencies on Thursday night at 6.20pm.