The Western Bulldogs could lose forward Cody Weightman for just one week despite a “traumatic” elbow injury sustained in last week’s big win over GWS.
Weightman, who dislocated his elbow after kicking five goals but returned to the field to finish the game, practiced Wednesday ahead of this week’s clash with Hawthorn but coach Luke Beveridge wasn’t sure he was fit to play.
The 21-year-old avoided bone damage and just stretched his ligaments, but the six-day layoff from Friday night’s clash with the Hawks could affect Weightman’s chances of playing.
“It’s a pretty traumatic injury, and he’s going to practice today, but we want to make sure that if he does play, he’s free of pain, comfortable and able to play his natural game,” Beveridge said Wednesday.
“Standing in front of you, I’m not entirely sure that’s the case.
“He’s definitely going to practice and I think we’re more inclined to take care of him and he’s going to have to miss a game. But I would say that he would almost definitely be ready for the following week.”
After making a solid return from an ACL injury in the VFL last weekend, forward Josh Bruce is more likely to have another career in reserves before returning to teammate Aaron Naughton.
Bruce admitted his match fitness would be the biggest challenge for a return before a few more VFL games.
“My body feels like I’ve been hit by a train … but it’s good to have that kind of pain again,” she said.
“It felt amazing to be back there.
“I was quite nervous, it was a fairly important injury and it hasn’t been the best of rehabilitations. My fitness for the match wasn’t quite there, but in a couple of weeks I’ll be fine.”
Beveridge also couldn’t guarantee that Lachie Hunter would return to face the Hawks, as he also returned from a mental health break in the VFL, having not played since Round 5.
Sitting four points out of eight with games against Brisbane, Sydney, St Kilda, Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle after Hawthorn, Beveridge was convinced his team’s best football was yet to come.
“Beyond this game, we have a stretch of playing against teams that are above us, which is a given,” he said.
“We think our best effort will be to challenge, but as we discussed this morning, the momentum shifts into games that we have to avoid and we’re preparing every week to be a formidable opponent.”
Beveridge said suspended player Bailey Smith, who won’t play until the 18th round after serving a head-butting suspension and an AFL ban, was eager to play but in an “OK” space while awaiting his return.
“It will be like a cat on a hot tin roof: it will want to play but it can’t,” Beveridge said.
“But it seems to be in a good space.”