Western Bulldogs senior coach Luke Beveridge is confident his side can find a forward mix that works for the remainder of 2021 without injured star Josh Bruce.
Bruce, who has kicked 48 goals this year, will go under the knife today for an ACL reconstruction.
Beveridge said the Bulldogs needed to move on quickly to find a blend that works, starting this week in an important game against Hawthorn.
With two points separating first from fourth on the ladder, the Bulldogs have plenty to play for over the next fortnight as they look to secure the best possible position heading into finals.
“It is devastating for Josh, but we’ve got to move on pretty quickly,” Beveridge told media today.
“There’s a lot at stake. We’ll find a way.
“He’s pretty philosophical about it all, he’s processed the disappointment and he wants to get on with it. He wanted to have the surgery ASAP and get on the front foot with it so he can come back as quickly as possible, which is a great attitude to have.
“That’s the attitude we’ve all got to have.
“Yes, we haven’t got Josh for the remaining elements of the season, but as we’ve always done, we’ve got to find a way to make sure we fulfil the critical roles and put together a blend that will help us win against Hawthorn.”
Beveridge was reluctant to reveal details of the Bulldogs’ forward mix, with the team for Saturday’s match against the Hawks at UTAS Stadium in Launceston to be confirmed tonight at 6.20pm.
The way forward though – at least for this week – looks like being without Josh Schache.
Beveridge said the forward-turned-defender would train today but was “doubtful” to line-up against the Hawks. He sustained a knee injury last week against Essendon and played out the game.
If that’s the case, the Bulldogs would need to replace key position players at both ends of the ground this week.
Defensive duo Alex Keath (hamstring) and Ryan Gardner (shoulder) trained today, with Beveridge declaring both as possibilities to return from injury.
Experienced ruckman Stef Martin remains a week or two away from being available for selection, after battling a persistent groin and hip injury in recent times.
“He’s going to have a training run today,” Beveridge said.
“He’s possibly available (for finals). We’ll just need to wait and see, he’s been out for a long time now. But will he be available to actually play in a couple of weeks’ time? Yeah, possibly, if he doesn’t have any more hiccups.
“As we know, he’s had one or two along the way which has been really frustrating for him and us.”