INCREASED competition for spots has been a major contributor to the Western Bulldogs' improved performance in 2015, coach Luke Beveridge says.
The Bulldogs, who started the season with the league's third-youngest list, have introduced six new players, three of whom were taken in last year's NAB AFL Draft and will face the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
"I've tried to establish competitiveness between our players with competition for spots and if you don't perform well, you might be under pressure and if you perform well at VFL level, you deserve a spot," Beveridge said.
"I think we've played six new recruits this year, but for our first-year players to come in and endure the rigors of the training and AFL football, they've shown some terrific signs.
"We're looking for big games from Lukas Webb (pick No.27), Bailey Dale (No.45) and Toby McLean (No.26) in his second game.
"They'll continue to grow and as each game goes by they'll be better for it."
Beveridge believed his young side needed to become more consistent, believing that 11th with five wins and five losses at the halfway mark of the season was a fair reflection of the Bulldogs' progress.
"We're 11th on the table and that's where we see ourselves, but we'd like to be higher. We're ambitious but that's where we are at, that's our lot and we're looking to progress over the next part of the year," said Beveridge
"At different stages we've been quiet exceptional with our performances, but we need to continue to maintain that from week to week and that is our challenge."
The Dogs will regain Marcus Bontempelli and the recently re-signed Liam Picken for the clash with the 16th-placed Lions, but will be missing forward Stewart Crameri, who rolled an ankle at training on Thursday.
"He might be all right on Sunday but it was just too late in the week to muck around with, so we pulled him out of the side and he'll be probably right to go the following week, I'd say." Beveridge said
Reigning best and fairest Tom Liberatore was a welcome sight on the training track as he walked laps in his rehabilitation from a season-ending knee injury.