THE WESTERN Bulldogs have emerged as the front-runners in the race to lure Port Adelaide free agent Jackson Trengove home to Victoria.
Trengove appeared likely to re-sign with Port earlier this year, but the 197cm utility began to reconsider his future when he was dropped following the Power's humiliating 84-point flogging by Adelaide in round 20.
The 26-year-old was best on ground the next week in the SANFL with 23 possessions and two goals, but was unable to earn a senior recall before the end of the home and away season despite continued good form for the Port Magpies.
There has been rival interest in the former Calder Cannon all year, but that interest has spiked in recent weeks with Trengove now prepared to consider a move.
The Bulldogs are making a strong play for Trengove and appear best placed to obtain his signature if he decides to come home, although there are other interested teams.
Trengove has already been linked with Carlton, while Collingwood and Hawthorn are among the teams looking to bolster their key-position stocks.
The reigning premiers were previously among the clubs feverishly circling out-of-contract Adelaide key defender Jake Lever, but AFL.com.au reported last week the 21-year-old had ruled the Bulldogs out as a potential new home.
Trengove would appeal to the Bulldogs as an alternative option to boost their spine, while his ability to play at either end of the ground and pinch-hit in the ruck would bolster their versatility.
The 2011 Port best and fairest winner is a restricted free agent, so the Power have the right to match any rival offer.
Although Port still regards Trengove as a required player, it might consider allowing him to go if he receives an offer that would net the club an attractive compensation pick.
The leadership group member is on a lucrative contract at Port believed to be worth more than $600,000 a season, but any rival offers are more likely to fall in the mid-$500,000 range, which should net the Power a second-round pick.
Although Trengove's recent demotion has prompted him to question whether there's still a spot for him in Port's best 22, he has yet to decide his future.
If the utility earns a recall for Port's elimination final against West Coast and plays a meaningful role in September, it could sway him to stay at Alberton Oval.
Recruited with pick No.22 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, Trengove has played 153 games for Port, including its first 19 this season. He finished seventh in the club's best and fairest award last season.