THE WESTERN Bulldogs are poised to tackle their crucial clash against Hawthorn without livewire Cody Weightman.
The small forward booted five first-half goals against Greater Western Sydney then dislocated his elbow in the third quarter but still played out the game.
Weightman trained on Wednesday but coach Luke Beveridge indicated, while the 21-year-old avoided bone damage, only stretching his ligaments, the six-day break to Friday night's game was likely too little.
"It's a pretty traumatic sort of injury, and he is going to train today but we want to make sure that if he if he plays, he's pain-free, he's comfortable and he can play his natural game," Beveridge told reporters.
"Standing in front of you, I'm not totally certain that that will be the case.
"He'll definitely train and I think we're more inclined to look after him and he'll need to miss a game. But I'd say he'd almost definitely be ready for the following week."
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Weightman's absence means Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Josh Schache will have further responsibility alongside Aaron Naughton.
Josh Bruce is likely to spend another week in the VFL after a successful comeback from his knee reconstruction while Beveridge wouldn't guarantee Lachie Hunter would come straight back in.
Tim English will miss with delayed onset concussion but Beveridge expected him to be fit to face Brisbane the following week.
The Bulldogs are four points outside the eight and realistically need to beat the Hawks to stay firmly in touch with the finals spots ahead of a brutal run.
Matches against Brisbane, Sydney, St Kilda, Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle await but Beveridge was wary of looking too far ahead.
"Beyond this game we've got a stretch of playing against teams who are above us, which is a fact," he said.
"But Adelaide beat us by a point. There's been other teams everyone was expecting us to beat but you're either good enough or you ain't.
"We believe our best is going to challenge but as we discussed this morning the momentum swings in games we've got to stave off and we're setting ourselves up each week to be a formidable opponent."
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Bailey Smith is training fully with the main group, having served one of his four weeks' worth of suspensions for separate headbutting and illicit drug use bans.
"He'll be like a cat on a hot tin roof - he'll want to play but he can't," Beveridge said.
"But he seems to be in an OK space."