WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says he is more optimistic on the prospect of captain Marcus Bontempelli proving his fitness for their AFL preliminary final than he was at the time of the injury.
The Bulldogs superstar hurt his right knee in an awkward landing from a marking contest in last Saturday's dramatic semi-final win over Brisbane.
Scans cleared Bontempelli of any structural damage but Thursday's main training session will be crucial to his hopes of facing Port Adelaide on Saturday.
Beveridge said a decision on Bontempelli came down to the risk of his injury forcing him out of the preliminary final early in the game, but the fact it wasn't a soft-tissue concern gave more confidence his body would hold up.
"With things like joints and some soreness and some bone bruising and some things that a player may be able to overcome - and the soft tissue aspect isn't there - then it gives you a level of confidence that you're going to be able to play the four quarters," he told SEN.
"We'll see how he trains today and how he goes about his work and we're really hopeful that he's going to be OK.
"If he isn't then we're just going to have to, as we have all year, spread the load and fill his role with someone else and believe we can get the job done.
"But he's an amazing player and leader and he'd be a huge loss if he doesn't come up."
Beveridge said he'd consistently had a "level of confidence" Bontempelli would be OK after Saturday's game but was feeling more optimistic five days down the track.
"When the scans came back and there wasn't anything dramatic wrong with his knee, obviously we all breathed a sigh of relief," he said.
"But yeah, I'm probably more glass half-full now than I was when it happened."
Beveridge was adamant the Bulldogs' medical team would have the final say on Bontempelli's availability but he would continue to check in with his skipper.
"Marcus and I have already touched based around that and how he's feeling and there'll definitely be another conversation today about how he's going and his confidence levels for Saturday night," he said.
Meanwhile, Beveridge said ruckman Stefan Martin's prospects of playing realistically hadn't changed, given his lack of match conditioning and he would need to train strongly to prove his fitness for his first game since round 12.