WESTERN Bulldogs key defender Alex Keath is expected to miss up to the next six weeks after suffering an unusual hamstring injury, but the club will be boosted in defence by the return of Zaine Cordy for the Good Friday fixture against North Melbourne.
Keath missed the loss to Richmond after injuring his hamstring at training last week and subsequent scans have revealed the 30-year-old might not return before late May.
With Laitham Vandermeer straining his hamstring last weekend, Mitch Hannan struggling with an illness that isn't COVID-19, Jason Johannisen still dealing with the calf injury he sustained in the warm-up before round one and a few long-term injuries, the unavailability list has mounted in recent weeks at the Whitten Oval.
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said the club will need to take a cautious approach with Keath given the unique nature of the hamstring issue.
"It's a bit of an unusual hamstring injury. There is a sheath that runs between two of the major muscles and there's an aggravation of that area," Beveridge said on Thursday.
"You've got to be a little bit careful because it can turn nasty. We don’t expect him to be available for a little while.
"Zaine will be available to come into the team this afternoon. Two weeks ago, we had 40 out training, but it can turn pretty quickly on the injury front. Every team is going to face that at different times. Last week was a big challenge key position wise, but with Zaine being available this week that will help us."
MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list
After falling out of favour in 2021 and only managed six senior games, Mitch Wallis has played the last two games as the medi-sub and could be named in the 22 on Thursday night.
Defender Hayden Crozier has played the past two games in the VFL after fainting at half-time of the Dogs' loss to Carlton in round two, but is unlikely to return to the AFL side on Friday, while ruckman Stefan Martin, Josh Schache and Riley Garcia are all in contention to face David Noble's side at Marvel Stadium.
Star forward Josh Bruce is understood to be ahead of schedule in his return from the knee reconstruction that ended his 2021 campaign in the dying moments of round 21, at a time when the Canberran was second in the Coleman Medal with 48 goals on the board.
The 29-year-old wasn’t initially expected to return to play until closer to August, but the Western Bulldogs are now hopeful Bruce will be in a position where he can return via the VFL not long after the bye, with round 15 or 16 the target if everything goes to plan from here.
At this stage, Bruce would spend two to three weeks playing for Footscray before he would be available for senior selection, but could provide a major boost for the Western Bulldogs across the closing six weeks of the home and away season.
The Western Bulldogs have been tormented by inaccuracy woes across the past fortnight, finishing with 7.19 against Richmond and 9.17 against Sydney, creating a major talking point this week.
>> GET YOUR TIPS IN AND WIN BIG
Beveridge said the players had spent some time focusing on goal kicking this week at training and is confident the inefficiency will improve.