THE WESTERN Bulldogs have suffered a significant blow ahead of their clash against Carlton on Thursday night, with young star Bailey Smith sidelined due to a hip injury.
It is the first time Smith, who launched the season with a brilliant 33-possession game against Melbourne, will miss a match since making his debut in round one, 2019.
The 20-year-old is one of three outs for the Bulldogs, who have dropped Bailey Williams and Josh Schache for the clash at Marvel Stadium.
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The Bulldogs have elevated young forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan into the starting 18 from the medical sub bench, naming the No.1 pick from the 2020 NAB AFL Draft in a forward pocket.
The exciting forward has played five games in his short career, between rounds 17 and 21 last season.
Defender Taylor Duryea and rookie Anthony Scott have been called on for their first games this season, with ruckman Stefan Martin named as an emergency.
Captain Marcus Bontempelli has been named after proving he had overcome an ankle injury at training this week.
Carlton has limited its losses through health and safety protocols to two players so far, with Adam Cerra and Jack Martin both sidelined for Thursday night's clash.
The loss of gun midfielder Cerra is offset by the return of star Sam Walsh from a syndesmosis injury ahead of schedule, with Lachie Fogarty also recalled.
Defender Tom Williamson, who was the medical sub last week, has been omitted for the clash.
With coach Michael Voss in health and safety protocols, assistant coach Ash Hansen will lead the team on Thursday night.
The former Western Bulldogs' assistant said Walsh had done everything right in his preparation.
"Everyone has got an individual timeline, and Sam has ticked all the boxes that we’ve required him to," Hansen said.
"We kept an open mind with the timeline. Everyone is individual and has their own rehab process. From the start, Sam was responding really well.”
Western Bulldogs v Carlton v at Marvel Stadium, 7.20pm AEDT
In: T.Duryea, A.Scott
Out: B.Smith (injured), J.Schache (omitted), B.Williams (omitted)
Last week's sub: J.Ugle-Hagan (unused)
In: L.Fogarty, S.Walsh
Out: A.Cerra (HS Protocol), J.Martin (HS Protocol), T.Williamson (omitted)
Last week's sub: T.Williamson (unused)