THE WESTERN Bulldogs will regain star midfielder Bailey Smith for Friday night's clash with St Kilda, with Josh Bruce also a chance to face his former side.

And premiership Bulldog Toby McLean is also firmly in the mix to make his return from his second knee reconstruction.

Smith has served his AFL suspension under the League's illicit drugs policy and will be a welcome boost for the Dogs, who have lost their past two games against Brisbane and Sydney as their finals hopes hang in the balance.

And Bruce will also be in contention, with the key forward booting four goals in Footscray's VFL game on Sunday in his best outing yet in his return from his knee reconstruction.

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The Dogs will have to weigh up whether the 30-year-old is ready off a five-day break, with Bruce also picking a hamstring niggle since returning to the VFL last month. He kicked 4.5 from 18 disposals and six marks in the VFL, while fellow ACL victim McLean also starred with 27 disposals and a goal against Sandringham.

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VFL Showreel, R16: Josh Bruce highlights

Enjoy Josh Bruce's standout VFL performance for the Bulldogs

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It was McLean's third game back at VFL level, where he has steadily built up his form. He hasn’t played for the Dogs’ senior side since round 16 last year.

Bruce hasn't played at the top level since round 21 last year, when he suffered his season-ending knee injury in the dying moments of the Dogs' loss to Essendon, which saw him miss the club's run to the Grand Final in Perth.

After a 48-goal season last year his absence has been notable for the Bulldogs this season, with Luke Beveridge's side in real danger of missing the finals as they sit in 10th position on the ladder and a win outside the top eight.

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They face a tough run home as well, with clashes against top-four sides Melbourne, Geelong and Fremantle to follow their meeting with the Saints.

Smith has been sorely missed, having likely led the Dogs' best and fairest and been in Therabody AFL All-Australian contention at the midway point of the season.