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No thoughts of retirement as veteran Dog avoids surgery

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BRAVE Western Bulldogs backman Dale Morris is prepared to prove the doubters wrong after avoiding surgery on his injured knee and aiming to return this season.

Morris suffered a high-grade injury to the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last Friday.

The immediate fear was the 36-year-old's career would be over.

However, his rehab program will be similar to that of last year.

In February 2018, Morris suffered a small tear in his right ACL but didn't need to go under the knife initially, and eventually lined up in 11 matches.

He will follow a similar rehab program designed to see him feature in the upcoming campaign.

Medical services manager Chris Bell told westernbulldogs.com.au the next month would be critical in determining how Morris will recover.

"Dale is an incredibly diligent and professional athlete, so we will put a comprehensive rehab program around him to do everything we can to get him back to playing AFL footy this season," Bell said.

 

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"We have decided to manage Dale's knee injury conservatively, and that means he will not require any surgery. Dale will go into a splint in the hope that the cruciate ligament heals.

"This is similar to how we managed his partial ACL injury to his opposite knee last season.

"We will assess the stability and degree of healing of the cruciate again in four to six weeks to determine when he can come out of the splint. It's also at this time that we will get a clearer idea of his return to play timeline."

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At this early stage, Morris has predicted another mid-season return, although the timeline is vague at the moment.

What isn't in doubt is Morris' resolve.

"Not once have I thought, 'Maybe this is it'," Morris said.

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"That's just not in my DNA. I want to play for as long as I can, and this doesn't change that.

"I'll be doing everything I can to get back, because I just love playing for this football club so much.

"Timeframe-wise, we just don't know. We're going to be aiming for around that mid-year mark, (but) it could blow out (or) it could come in.

"We’ve just got to wait and see how it goes."

Morris has lined up in 252 career games and is most famously remembered for his lunging tackle on Sydney superstar Lance Franklin late in the 2016 Grand Final that helped Tom Boyd boot a critical goal.