A RELIEVED Luke Beveridge has confirmed key forward Aaron Naughton will play in the clash with Sydney as the Western Bulldogs welcome back gun midfielder Bailey Smith.

The 2016 Bulldogs premiership coach also gave captain Marcus Bontempelli the all-clear despite concerns over an ankle injury that has lingered since round one.

Prime ball-winner Smith will bolster the Dogs' midfield against the Swans after missing round two with a minor hip complaint.


But it is Naughton who arguably shapes as the most crucial piece in Beveridge's plans to arrest a troubling 0-2 start to the season at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.

The spearhead suffered a "deep cork" in a calf muscle in last week's defeat to Carlton.

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"We trained the other day and we didn't put him through a full session but he's come through OK," Beveridge said.

"He'll be named in the team and he should be no worries to play, which is a bit of a relief.

"He's such a difficult player to handle for the opposition with his athletic traits and what he can do with his power and his desire to compete like he does."

Sydney's tall forward line - led by 1000-goal spearhead Lance Franklin, Hayden McLean and boom youngster Logan McDonald - poses a significant threat to the Bulldogs after Carlton's twin towers Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay combined for nine goals last week.

But Beveridge is confident Alex Keath, Ryan Gardner and Zaine Cordy can blunt the Swans' attack.

Alex Keath and Charlie Curnow during the Dogs-Blues clash in round two, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"I'm not overly concerned," Beveridge said.

"I back our boys in and they'll do a better job if they get pressure on the ball (further up the ground)."

Bontempelli spent plenty of time in attack late in the Carlton clash but Beveridge said the move was strategic, as opposed to a way to manage the skipper through the contest.

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"Physically he'll be fine, he's had a pretty good week," Beveridge said.

"He carries niggles and discomfort with a great deal of resilience."

Bulldogs defender Hayden Crozier will be managed through three quarters of a reserves match this week after a scary episode when he fainted during the Carlton loss.

He has since passed further medical tests but will not play against Sydney at Marvel Stadium on Thursday night.

Western Bulldogs' Hayden Crozier during the R1 clash against Melbourne on March 16, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"All the tests haven't shown anything and he feels fine, he wants to play," Beveridge said.

"Our medical staff have cleared him to play but just as a precaution we'll see how he goes.

"We'll play him for three quarters and we'll monitor his game time.

"Hopefully he gets through with flying colours."

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