JOSH Bruce has suffered a minor setback, injuring his hamstring at training on Wednesday.

The Western Bulldogs forward had been eyeing an AFL return in the coming weeks, after rupturing his ACL in round 21 last year.

Bruce kicked three majors last weekend in the VFL against Carlton, with his first major drawing a rousing response from teammates. It was his first match since August.

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The club is confident the injury is minor, saying Bruce is experiencing hamstring tightness.

Despite Bruce's season-ending knee injury in 2021, the Bulldogs defied the odds and progressed through to last year's Grand Final against Melbourne.

But his absence this season has been glaring.

While Aaron Naughton has kicked 35 goals, the 22-year-old has regularly had to deal with two or more defenders.

Small forward Cody Weightman – also likely out injured this weekend, after dislocating his elbow against GWS last week – has kicked 21 goals.

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Captain Marcus Bontempelli is the next best with 16, while midfielders Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley have both booted 11 majors.

Meanwhile, in his seven games for the season, 2020's No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has kicked just five goals.

Luke Beveridge's side sits in 10th position, one game out of the eight.

Bruce's inclusion in the next fortnight would have been a major inclusion for the Bulldogs.

Footscray Bulldogs' Josh Bruce is mobbed after kicking his first goal in his comeback game from a knee reconstruction in the Round 13 VFL match against Carlton Blues at Ikon Park on June 17, 2022. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

After playing Hawthorn this weekend, last year's grand finalists face Brisbane, Sydney, St Kilda, Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle.

"Beyond this game we've got a stretch of playing against teams who are above us, which is a fact," Beveridge said on Wednesday morning.

"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."

Bruce has played 150 career games across three clubs – GWS (14 games), St Kilda (99) and the Bulldogs (37).

The 30-year-old crossed to Whitten Oval at the end of 2019 on a four-year deal.