Western Bulldogs senior coach Luke Beveridge has confirmed Aaron Naughton will play in Friday night’s Round 1 clash against Collingwood.
Beveridge said Naughton, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last month, has passed his rehabilitation with “flying colours”.
“We’ll name a side this afternoon, but Aaron is in our 22,” Beveridge said at a press conference on Thursday morning.
“He’s really important (to our team), not just for now, but as time goes by we hope he’ll keep getting better and better.
“We were a little uncertain as to whether or not he’d front up – he had that surgery at the end of last year, and then recently a bit of a clean-up – but after about a week he seemed fine.
“He’s come through with flying colours and will take his spot in the team on Friday night.”
Beveridge revealed there was no pressure put on the 20-year-old to play, considering he was sidelined for both Marsh Community Series matches.
“I said to him at the end of last week, ‘There’s no pressure to play – if you’re not feeling 100%, let’s push it back’,” Beveridge said.
“He got through all his training with no impediment – so he’s in a good state of mind, and really enthusiastic.”
The head coach also confirmed off-season recruits Alex Keath and Josh Bruce will take to the field on Friday night.
“It’s exciting for us and our supporters, to see the difference (Keath and Bruce) may make,” Beveridge said.
“I think in our key-position areas, we’ve got a little bit more depth, and our team will present out on the park differently than it has the last couple of years.”
The Bulldogs will announce their starting 22 on Thursday night.