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AFL 2017 Round 19 - Western Bulldogs v Essendon

Will Travis Cloke fit in the Dogs' new-look forward line?

THE WESTERN Bulldogs have been crying out for a key forward ever since club legend Chris Grant retired at the end of 2007.

Fast forward a decade, they're now falling out of the trees at Whitten Oval, with 199cm ex-Lion Josh Schache joining Tom Boyd (201cm), Jack Redpath (194cm) and Travis Cloke (196cm) as tall, marking targets at coach Luke Beveridge's disposal in 2018.

He also has versatile defenders Jackson Trengove and Marcus Adams who can pinch-hit up forward, while No.1 ruckman Jordan Roughead is another option capable of spending time there.

Coincidentally, Grant – now the club's football director – was central to the recruitment of Schache, signing the papers that sealed the homesick goal-kicker's return to Victoria.

The strategy of having four key forwards on a senior list flies in the face of the hallmark of the past two premiers – smaller attacks set up around one tall forward.

Beveridge lifted the cup in 2016 on the back of that game plan similar to Richmond's this year, with Boyd spending his time between ruck and the forward line with the assistance of mid-sized teammates Jake Stringer (192cm) and Zaine Cordy (191cm).

The Dogs' philosophy changed in their disastrous premiership defence, with Cloke recruited to play alongside Boyd and Redpath with limited success, so it will be interesting to see how they set up with Schache added to the equation after Stringer was sent packing to Essendon.

Does the arrival of the 2015 No.2 pick signal Beveridge still intends persist with Boyd predominately in the ruck?

How will Redpath, who faces regular questions about playing alongside another key forward, be feeling now after warding off strong interest from rival clubs to sign his first multi-year deal in his seventh season at the club? 

After an underwhelming first season in the red, white and blue, will Cloke be afforded ample senior opportunities or will he languish for periods in the VFL again?

Another consideration facing Beveridge and his football department, is how manage the morale of Boyd, Cloke and Schache, with all three taking time away from the game in the past 12 months to deal with psychological issues. 

As the high-profile trio well know, the media scrutiny will be fierce if they spend large chucks of the season playing with Footscray.

Asked why the Dogs recruited Schache amid limited interest from other clubs and queries over his competiveness, a rival club recruiter told it was an "interesting call", but added Beveridge's renowned affinity with his charges could see the 20-year-old "flourish".

Questions have long been asked over how the Dogs will kick a winning score, and they won't be going anywhere heading into 2018.