THE WESTERN Bulldogs expect speedster Jason Johannisen to return from his ankle injury for their crunch game with Melbourne on Saturday.
Johannisen missed the Bulldogs' 57-point crunching of Adelaide on Sunday after injuring his ankle at training last week, but captain Marcus Bontempelli said the 2016 Norm Smith medallist should be back against the Demons.
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"At this stage it's looking pretty likely," Bontempelli said on Tuesday.
"He was pretty close to playing on the weekend just gone but because of the short turnaround when he tweaked his ankle there just wasn't enough time. So [with] all things are progressing this week as we planned them to he should be back out there."
The Dogs are also sweating on the fitness of ruckman Tim English after his minor ankle trouble against the Crows.
Their victory over the winless Crows broke a three-game losing streak and Saturday's clash with fellow finals aspirants Melbourne looms as a critical game in the Bulldogs' bid to break into the top-eight.
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They'll do it with Bontempelli back in strong form after averaging 31 disposals and booting three goals in the Bulldogs' previous two games. The superstar midfielder said his own output had picked up as the team's form had improved.
"It's been my own form but also us as a team. We clearly haven't been able to win as much as we would've liked in the last couple of weeks," the Dogs captain said.
"I'm a byproduct of my teammates at different times so obviously when you're all playing well it does help your individual game but just as a group we've played a lot better team collective game.
"It's nice to be back playing a better brand of football and doing it consistently, but we've just got to keep chasing those wins."
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Bontempelli will go head-to-head with in-form Melbourne midfielder Christian Petracca at stages during this week's clash at Metricon Stadium, with Petracca looming as a key player after Melbourne's three consecutive wins by more than 50 points.
"At some point we'll be around each other from a midfield perspective. He's having a very good season, and a real influential season, and you always take note of that as a footballer," Bontempelli said.
"I've played against him when I was a bit younger and we're a similar age, so it's great to see players who do that and at different times have that dominance. He's going very well.
"We'll have to be very mindful of how Christian's going, especially around the stoppages."