Liam Jones after the Western Bulldogs were defeated by Fremantle in round seven, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

THE WESTERN Bulldogs' finals chances have taken a significant hit with veteran defender Liam Jones ruled out for up to a month with a knee injury, following a weekend where Aaron Naughton and James O'Donnell entered concussion protocols. 

Jones didn't train last week due to knee soreness after the win over North Melbourne and missed the loss against Port Adelaide, but subsequent scans have revealed a moderate-grade medial ligament injury. 

The 33-year-old will miss crucial games across the next fortnight against Carlton and Geelong and might not be available for the trip to Sydney in round 20, as well as the fixture against Melbourne the following weekend. 

After being comprehensively beaten by the Power, the Dogs face a brutal month ahead and will also be without Naughton and O'Donnell for Saturday's twilight clash against Carlton at Marvel Stadium.


Cody Weightman could be available after missing the 48-point loss to the Power with a groin injury, with the star forward needing to prove his fitness later in the week. 

Veteran key defender Alex Keath is pushing to be available ahead of schedule after being sidelined since round 13 with a hamstring strain. 

If Jones or Keath aren't available, Jedd Busslinger is another option for the match committee to consider, although Beveridge has been protective of the former first-round pick – like other players taken high in the draft – and might not expose him just yet, given the opposition. 

Busslinger is yet to make his debut since being selected at pick No.13 in the 2022 AFL Draft, but recommitted to the club last week for two more seasons, despite interest from West Coast and a lack of opportunities in 2024. 


Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen suffered a setback in his bid to return from soft tissue issues, with another calf strain set to sideline him for at least five weeks. 

Off-season signing James Harmes re-injured his hamstring in the VFL and will miss a few weeks, while mid-season recruit Kelsey Rypstra is facing a month on the sidelines with a hamstring strain. 

Father-son recruit Jordan Croft, who arrived at the Whitten Oval via pick No.15 last November, is facing another stint on the sidelines after a stress fracture was detected in his upper leg after experiencing symptoms in his thigh.  


Luke Beveridge's side dropped to 8-8 to sit a game outside the eight in 11th spot after round 17 and are now facing a tough task to qualify for September after a nightmare weekend of injury issues.