Tom Liberatore during the round eight match between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, May 5, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

A WORRYING episode for star midfielder Tom Liberatore has further soured the Western Bulldogs' damaging 14.14 (98) to 14.7 (91) loss to Hawthorn on Sunday.

Liberatore left the field in the last quarter after an incident that brought to mind his off-the-ball collapse in round five against Essendon.

At that time the Bulldogs said the dual All-Australian didn't show concussion symptoms but nonetheless ruled him out of the following week's clash against St Kilda and then last round's loss to Fremantle.

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The incident during the final term on Sunday followed a first-quarter head knock after which Liberatore was cleared to return to the field.


"It's something I can't really comment on because I saw him stumble in the middle of the ground and that's concerning," coach Luke Beveridge said after the game.

"For it to happen again this afternoon when it was only a couple of weeks ago the same thing happened, it's a bigger concern than a one-week issue.

"We'll take a conservative approach, we'll look after him."


Sunday's result is sure to see the heat turn up on the Bulldogs and, in particular, Beveridge's coaching and team selection, but he says he's ready for the attention.

"Unless you're winning games of football you're always vulnerable to media scrutiny, so we just expect it, it's the nature of the industry.

"I've got a thick skin, I can deal with it."


As to whether his players were able to handle the intense gaze of the football world, Beveridge was confident the group was strong and united.

"It's deflating but we've got to stay the course and continue to rub shoulders, to look after each other and search for our next win."


The result was a much better one for Sam Mitchell, but he also has a major injury concern out of the match.

Captain James Sicily dislocated his shoulder in the first quarter and looked certain to be subbed out when he left the ground in obvious pain, however, he returned to the contest heavily strapped only to injure an ankle in the third term.

James Sicily leaves the field with an injured shoulder during the round eight match between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, May 5, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

After the second injury he again made his way back into the fray, but moved from defence to the forward line, ultimately kicking the Hawks' final goal to keep the Dogs at bay.

"He popped his shoulder and he said 'Oh no, it went back in pretty well, I think I'm okay'," Mitchell said after the match.

"It would have been really easy for him not to keep playing - shoulder's sore, foot's sore - we would've said 'I completely understand that'.


"But his level of commitment to work through that and to lead the way for our other boys was first class."

Asked whether his skipper would play next week Mitchell said he would think so.