THE WESTERN Bulldogs are bracing to be without Caleb Daniel for multiple weeks after the star defender was ruled out of Thursday night's game against Brisbane with a knee injury.
AFL.com.au can reveal Daniel underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee earlier this week to repair cartilage damage.
It is understood the damage wasn’t directly from last Friday night’s win over Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium, but an accumulation over the season which reached a point where surgery was the best option to relieve the pain.
LIONS v DOGS Check out the teams ahead of Thursday's night huge clash
The Bulldogs are confident Daniel won’t miss the rest of the home and away season, but his return date is unclear at this point until they see how the South Australian recovers from surgery.
Most players return from an arthroscope within a month.
With Sydney at the SCG next weekend and then St Kilda followed by Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, the timing is far from ideal for Luke Beveridge’s side, who are currently inside the top eight but only ahead of ninth-placed Richmond and 10th-placed St Kilda on percentage.
LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your team finish?
Daniel has rarely missed a game since making his debut in round 14, 2015, playing 148 games including the drought-breaking premiership in 2016 and the first 14 games of 2022.
The 25-year-old underwent surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee before he had played a game for the Western Bulldogs, months after the club selected him with pick No.46 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft.
The 2020 Charles Sutton medallist inked a four-year contract extension earlier this month, locking him to Whitten Oval until the end of 2026.
The Western Bulldogs will also be without star ruckman Tim English at the Gabba, with the West Australian missing a second week due to concussion.
Father-son recruit Sam Darcy has travelled to Brisbane after being included in the 26-man squad for the first time, but isn’t expected to be named as the medi-sub unless something unforeseen happens before the first bounce.
The 2021 No.2 pick has been rewarded for his five-game block at Footscray and is edging towards a highly anticipated debut, after arriving at the club with a stress fracture in his foot.