DOGS DIG THEIR HEELS IN TO KEEP DUNKLEY

ESSENDON will continue to bide its time on a move for Josh Dunkley, despite the Western Bulldogs reiterating that it does not wish to trade its star midfielder under any circumstances.

The Bombers believe that Dunkley has asked to be traded to Tullamarine, but conceded on Wednesday that the Bulldogs have the "whip-hand" in negotiations due to the onballer having two years to run on his current deal at the Whitten Oval.

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Complicating matters in any potential trade for Dunkley is the Bulldogs' reluctance to accept picks in this year's draft, with the club already looking to trade its first-round selection due to the impending arrival of gun Academy prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

The Bombers are otherwise set to be armed with three top-10 picks to potentially offer the Bulldogs courtesy of Joe Daniher and Adam Saad's departures, but have said that such discussions around Dunkley's value are yet to be held.

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"To be honest, we haven't got to that point," Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro told Trade Radio.

"The Bulldogs are pretty resolute that they want to keep Josh and we respect that.

"That's our understanding (that he wishes to be traded). But at the end of the day you've got to respect the fact that these guys are contracted. The Bulldogs hold the whip-hand with this one.

"We're certainly asking the question and we certainly will over the entirety of the Trade Period – and it's only the beginning of the Trade Period, so anything can happen – but right now, I wouldn't say discussions are progressing at any rapid speed."

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A premiership player with the Western Bulldogs in 2016, Dunkley penned a contract extension midway through last season that would ensure he would remain at the club until the end of 2022.

Having since established himself as one of its most important midfielders, the Bulldogs are now resolute that they will hold the talented 23-year-old to his existing contract.

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"Essendon clearly has interest in him," Western Bulldogs list manager Sam Power told the club's website.

"From our end, Josh is such a valuable member of the club and the team. He's in the leadership group, he was second in the best and fairest last year and he's a fantastic player.

"Josh is someone that we see being at this football club for a long period of time. He's someone we want to keep at this football club.

"Josh has obviously been up in Queensland since the end of the season and he got back to Melbourne yesterday. We've had conversations with him over the last few weeks, just reiterating how important he is to us.

"We see him here as a long-term player and we want him to be part of the Western Bulldogs." - Riley Beveridge 

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GUN PIE NO GUARANTEE TO STAY

JAIDYN Stephenson wants to stay at Collingwood, despite the club refusing to guarantee his future beyond this year’s Trade Period.

AFL.com.au reported last week that Collingwood had effectively put Stephenson on the trade table alongside star midfielder Adam Treloar. 

Despite this, it's understood Stephenson is determined to remain in the black and white having quietly penned a three-year extension taking him through to the end of 2023 last season.

Speaking on Trade Radio's AFL Exchange on Wednesday, Magpies list boss Ned Guy fuelled suggestions the talented 21-year-old could be on the move by saying it "remains to be seen" whether he will be at the club next year.

Guy's comments came as Collingwood ruled out a possible move for Melbourne forward Tom McDonald, who is also potentially looking for a new home during this year's Trade Period due to the impending arrival of Ben Brown from North Melbourne.

Greater Western Sydney had appeared as one potential destination for McDonald, given it is set to lose Jeremy Cameron to Geelong, but the Giants instead completed a trade for Fremantle forward Jesse Hogan on the opening day of the Trade Period.

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Collingwood was another club that had been linked to the versatile 28-year-old in recent days, but Magpies list boss Guy categorically dismissed those suggestions when put to him on Wednesday.

"There are a lot of areas we're trying to strengthen," Guy said.

"We had a good win against West Coast (in the elimination final), then we finished on terms that we weren't very comfortable with. We're trying to strengthen in every part of the ground.

"In Tom's case, we did a bit of homework there but I don't think we'll go down that path."

Collingwood forward Brody Mihocek has signed a three-year extension, while Jordan De Goey is closing in on a fresh two-year deal, while the club has also confirmed it is in talks to extend Mason Cox's contract beyond 2021. - Callum Twomey and Riley Beveridge 

DEES, ROOS START BROWN NEGOTIATIONS

TALKS are officially underway between Melbourne and North Melbourne regarding a move for key forward Ben Brown, with negotiations set to centre on a second-round pick.

The Demons do not expect the Kangaroos to indicate they want more than a second-round selection for Brown, with a trade likely to be completed for either pick No.26 or a future pick.

Brown officially nominated Melbourne as his preferred new home on Monday, having been told he was surplus to requirements at North Melbourne after kicking 287 goals across 130 games for the club.

The Demons had identified Brown as the man to partner young duo Sam Weideman and Luke Jackson in attack from 2021, with the move likely to see the club part with Tom McDonald during this year's Trade Period. - Riley Beveridge 

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FREE AGENT TO STICK WITH DONS

BOMBERS backman Martin Gleeson has agreed to a one-year contract extension with the club.

With the deal all but formalised, the versatile defender will head into his ninth season with the club in 2021. Gleeson has been an unrestricted free agent and had a trigger to go on next season but had assessed his options elsewhere for a long-term deal.

However, he will stay at Tullamarine after he played 13 games this season. 

Jayden Laverde remains unsigned for next year but has been offered a new deal, while James Stewart has also been presented a two-year contract.

Brayden Ham remains without a contract for next year as clubs wait on list sizes to be confirmed. - Callum Twomey

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DOCKERS DEAL OPENS POSSIBILITIES

FREMANTLE'S ability to secure a trade for Jesse Hogan on the opening day of Trade Period has released important space in the club's 2021 salary cap and opened re-contracting possibilities.

But while the Dockers have created space to move ahead with certain deals for out-of-contract players, they are likely to wait until they have clarity around list sizes.

Clubs on Wednesday believed final list sizes next season could still fall anywhere between 38 and 44, making it difficult to commit to players waiting on a new deal, even if the cap space has been created.

Veteran David Mundy, small forward Lachie Schultz and wingman Brett Bewley are among the out-of-contract players the Dockers would ideally like to re-sign.

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The Dockers on Wednesday received pick No.54 from Greater Western Sydney, with the selection moving to No.55 after Adelaide received compensation for the loss of free agent Brad Crouch.

The pick will contribute to a bank of draft points the club can use to match bids on its Next Generation Academy targets.

Classy East Fremantle half-back Brandon Walker and Claremont speedster Joel Western are the Dockers' two top-rated NGA talents in this year's NAB AFL Draft pool, with bids expected to come for both outside the top 30.

The Hogan pick is expected to fall inside the top 50 on Draft night once other clubs have used multiple selections to match bids on NGA players. - Nathan Schmook

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