WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says it would be a huge risk to select Stefan Martin during the finals, but he hasn't closed the door completely on the veteran ruckman.
Martin, who has been sidelined since round 12 with hip and groin issues, is on track to be fit for selection in the coming weeks.
But given his lengthy stint on the sidelines, Martin faces an uphill battle to win a spot in the side as the club pushes for premiership success.
"It would be risky wouldn't it?" Beveridge said on Thursday.
"For a player that's been out for so long, it would be a huge risk. You just can't afford to lose anyone in those circumstances in any game, let alone a final.
"It would be less likely that he'd be selected. But it probably depends more on the training block in the lead-in.
"If he can really be on top of things physically with what we throw at him, then that would give us peace of mind if we get there.
"But we're not counting on it."
Of more immediate concern to Beveridge is attempting to find a way to fill the void left by spearhead Josh Bruce, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in last week's loss to Essendon.
Bruce has booted a team-high 48 goals this season, with Aaron Naughton (38 goals) and midfielder Marcus Bontempelli (25) the next best.
Beveridge revealed Bruce hasn't even been able to see his close family since rupturing his ACL.
Bruce is set to undergo surgery on Thursday, with the 29-year-old forced to wait a few extra days to make sure a graze in his other leg wasn't infected.
"He's been isolated from Pip - his partner ... and his two children because of the fact they were up north after our Gold Coast game and then the quarantine aspect," Beveridge said.
"So he hasn't seen them for a little while either. They're scheduled to come out of isolation today as well. So at least he'll wake up to his family, that's a real positive."
With the second-placed Bulldogs well and truly in the flag hunt, Beveridge said Bruce's knee injury was a big blow.
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Bruce has played just one final in his 150-game AFL career - the Bulldogs' elimination final loss to his former side St Kilda last year.
"It is devastating for Josh but we've got to move on pretty quickly because there's a lot at stake. We'll find a way," Beveridge said.
The Bulldogs can take a major step towards locking up a top-two berth with victory over Hawthorn in Launceston on Saturday.