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'We'd be rushing it': Dog's return delayed another week

Max back, forgotten Hawk returns, Saint hamstrung Nat Edwards with all the latest footy news

TOM LIBERATORE will not return from his knee injury to face Melbourne on Sunday, as the Western Bulldogs dare to dream of a late charge to the finals.

The Dogs will take a cautious approach with Liberatore, who injured his knee in round 13 against Carlton, and he is expected to return to face St Kilda in round 18.

FULL INJURY LIST Who's ruled out and who's a test?

Liberatore was due to train on Thursday, but coach Luke Beveridge said he would miss another week.

Tom Liberatore hasn't played since the round 13 victory over the Blues. Picture: AFL Photos

"He'll train today. He's probably unlikely and we'll give him another week I'd say," he said.

"He's going well and it's not really conservative, it's just common sense. We originally planned this timeline so he should be right to go next week, but this week we'd be rushing it."

Forward Billy Gowers will play in the VFL this week after recovering from his ankle injury, while Dale Morris is also set to remain in the VFL.

 

The Dogs have hit form in the past month, winning three of their past four games, including an away victory over Port Adelaide and last week toppling ladder-leaders Geelong.

It has given them a sniff of returning to the finals for the first time since their 2016 premiership season, and with games against the Demons, St Kilda and Fremantle (at Marvel Stadium) to come in the next three weeks, they are in a strong spot to challenge for a top-eight berth.

"Every club who has a bit of a sniff of what's ahead finds themselves at times preoccupied with what the possibilities are," he said.

"We're no different to that. Whether I take the boring 'let's just focus on this week' line or not, the opportunity is there.

"If we keep winning – it's 'Captain Obvious', I should have the cape on – but we're playing good enough footy to be one of those teams. But time will tell."

Sometimes we get the narrative wrong ... I think everyone was critical of Port Adelaide not beating us, [when] we're going OK - Luke Beveridge

The Dogs expect the Demons to play ruck pair Max Gawn and Braydon Preuss as a duo, with Gawn returning from an ankle injury that forced him to miss last week's win over Carlton.

Although the spotlight in recent weeks have focused on the teams the Dogs have beaten – Port's horror show and Geelong's dip in form – as well as Collingwood's 'poor' performance in their win over the Bulldogs, Beveridge said his side doesn't yet warrant too much credit.

"I totally understand it, but sometimes we get the narrative wrong. Even being critical of teams – I think everyone was critical of Port Adelaide not beating us, [when] we're going OK," he said.

"We're one of those 18 that makes the competition even.

"We don't yearn for it, we haven't established ourselves as that team that should be getting any credit. We're in that situation now that if we continue to win that narrative will change again, but we're not there yet."

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