WESTERN Bulldogs utility Anthony Scott won't face Essendon on Sunday after entering health and safety protocols on Thursday morning, but Laitham Vandermeer and Mitch Wallis will be available for the important clash at Marvel Stadium.

Scott was the only player to test positive ahead of Thursday's main training session at Whitten Oval, joining a list of unavailable players that includes crucial trio Alex Keath, Tim English and Josh Bruce, among a handful of others that played in last year's Grand Final.

English will miss a second straight week after straining his hamstring at training last week, with the out-of-contract ruckman facing a race against the clock to be fit in time to face Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval next Friday night.

MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list

Vandermeer is ready to return after missing the past fortnight with hamstring tightness, while Wallis returned to training this week after missing the one-point loss to Adelaide in Ballarat due to the tragic passing of his mother-in-law. 

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"Anthony Scott will be out with the COVID protocols. He found out this morning. He'll be one that won't be available," Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge told reporters on Thursday. 

"We're testing every day. Everyone else has tested negative this morning. Scotty is the only one under the protocols at the moment."

Mature-age recruit Robbie McComb will get another opportunity in the senior side after the 26-year-old made his debut at Mars Stadium last Saturday.

But there is still no known return date for forward Mitch Hannan, who hasn’t played since round three due to lingering concussion symptoms.  

"It's going to be a slow one, the indefinite status lingers with him," Beveridge said.

"He is definitely doing more training wise. I can't tell you exactly when he'll be available at this stage." 

Mitch Hannan looks on during the Bulldogs' clash against Sydney in round three on March 31, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

After starting last year with six straight wins in a season that culminated with another Grand Final appearance, the Dogs have struggled to replace key players and currently sit a fair way off the pace at 2-4. 

Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli has been used predominantly inside 50 across the past fortnight to help provide Aaron Naughton with some support in attack.

Beveridge said the dialogue between the superstar midfielder – who has kicked four goals since the move on Good Friday – and the coaching department remains transparent as they try not to rob Peter to pay Paul.

"It's a discussion that Marcus and I are having regularly and he's having with our coaching group. He definitely has a license to be in there and out of there at different times. We definitely go in there with an agreed approach," he said.

"It is a critical consideration with a player of Marcus' influence. Last week he started forward again and we just couldn’t get the ball to him and that doesn’t help. 

Marcus Bontempelli in action against North Melbourne in round five on April 15, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"You've got to consider whether it was the right thing to do and whether you stay with it or not. The most important thing for Marcus is we strike a really good balance and keep him in the game and make sure he has momentum in his game. 

"If you go in with a pre-defined focus on him playing in just one position, it can rob you of that ability to move it to get him involved in the game. We just need to be flexible."

Key forward Bruce and prized pick Sam Darcy both started training with the main group for the first time this year earlier this week, as they build towards a return in the coming month or two. 

Bruce is ahead of schedule in his return from an ACL tear and pushing to play in the VFL around the mid-season bye, while Darcy is expected to start playing some games within the next four to six weeks after arriving at the club with a stress fracture in his foot.

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