A BOUT of flu has pushed gun ruckman Tim English’s return back another week, while the Western Bulldogs expect Lachie Hunter's return to the club within a month.

Defender Alex Keath will face Collingwood after five weeks out with a hamstring injury, while skipper Marcus Bontempelli is back after being managed.

And intercepting defender Luke Cleary will make his AFL debut.

But English, who missed three weeks with a hamstring injury, won't face a Collingwood side missing Brodie Grundy.

04:03 Mins
Published on

'Evolution' of star, decimated by injuries: Western Bulldogs' season so far

Sarah Olle and Cal Twomey review the Bulldogs' start to the season

Published on

"Tim unfortunately is ill, he's crook. So he won't play," coach Luke Beveridge said.

"He's recovered from the injury but he's really sick. I think this flu that's going around has got a hold of him and it's knocked him around.

"It's whatever the heavy dose of this flu is, it's really floored him. So we'll miss him this week again."

The duo's return offset the loss of Tim O'Brien (calf), Laith Vandermeer (hamstring) and Cody Weightman (shoulder).

Cleary, 19, was taken with pick No.61 in last year's NAB AFL Draft after being overlooked in 2020. 

Winger Hunter has been away on personal leave since April 19.

"Lachie's going OK," Beveridge said.

"He's putting some things in place away from the club and we anticipate probably in a month's time that he'll probably re-enter the club and get going again and we'll see how he's going.

"That's probably the timeline."

Lachie Hunter in action during the Western Bulldogs' win over North Melbourne in round five, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Beveridge said "one or two" other players had the flu this week but were OK, and confirmed Bontempelli had been "bedridden" with illness last week.

"It (the week off) will help him on one front with his niggles and the soreness in his ankles and his hip and all the things he was dealing with," Beveridge said.

"But he's obviously had a strain of the flu as well and it's floored him for a while.

"He'll be fresher in the body as far as injuries go and we just hope that he's running on top of the ground and it hasn't flattened him too much."

Marcus Bontempelli and Bailey Smith after the Bulldogs' loss in the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Beveridge expected Keath's return to significantly bolster the Bulldogs' aerial presence after they were shown up against Port Adelaide, but said forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was "unlikely" to earn a recall.

In positive news for the Dogs, who sit at 3-5, father-son No.2 draft pick Sam Darcy will finally play in the VFL this weekend after recovering from a long-term foot injury.

"That's exciting for all of us. Sam hasn't played footy for a long time now and he'll only play 60-70 per cent of the game ... and hopefully he gets through in flying colours," Beveridge said.

"He's 207cm now, so what that means for us in the future, you celebrate a little bit."