Western Bulldogs defender Josh Bruce will undergo specialist advice after suffering significant rib damage against Port Adelaide in round five.

Head of Sports Medicine, Chris Bell, said a return-to-play timeline for Bruce will be established in the coming weeks.

“In the third quarter of the game on the weekend, Josh went to ground in a contest and received direct contact from an opposition knee straight into his ribcage,” Bell said.

“Unfortunately this has caused significant damage to multiple ribs in Josh’s chest.

“Josh has returned to Melbourne – we’re seeking specialist advice on how to best manage him.

“We aren’t going to set a time-frame at the moment, but hope to update more specifically in the next couple of weeks.”


Bell said a conservative approach will be taken in regards to Bailey Smith, who missed Gather Round with calf tightness.

“Following our main training session last week, Bailey developed some calf tightness - he did have some intermittent tightness over the pre-season, so we are going to be conservative with when he does return to play,” he said.

“Bailey won’t play against Fremantle this week, but we’re optimistic he’ll make a return the week or two following.”

In more positive injury news, both Alex Keath (concussion) and Laith Vandermeer (leg) will be tested this week before returning to availability, while Hayden Crozier (back) has been cleared to play.

“Alex has been progressing in line with our expectations. He still does have some boxes to tick, so he’ll work through that through the rest of this week – but we expect him to get through main training and hopefully be available this weekend,” Bell said.

“Laitham built some great continuity in his training over the pre-season, but unfortunately during an intra-club game broke a bone in his lower leg called the fibula.

“Laitham’s been the ultimate professional – he’s been back in full training for a period of time now, and we’re looking forward to welcoming Laitham back to availability this weekend.

“Hayden had a whiplash-type injury against Richmond. In some good news, those symptoms have now fully cleared.

“He’s back into a full training model, and will return to availability this week.”

The Bulldogs are already in Perth, in preparation for a Friday night ANZAC Appeal Round clash against Fremantle at Optus Stadium.


Injury list

Hayden Crozier (back) – available

Alex Keath (concussion) – test

Laith Vandermeer (leg) – test

Bailey Smith (calf) – 1-2 weeks

Harvey Gallagher (hamstring) – 2-4 weeks

Riley Garcia (groin) – 4-6 weeks

Roarke Smith (foot) – 5-7 weeks

Dom Bedendo (groin) – indefinite

Josh Bruce (ribs) - TBC