Battered Bulldogs sweat on AFL injuries

The Western Bulldogs will be sweating on a host of injuries to key players as they gear up for a season-defining clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The Bulldogs slipped to sixth on the table after copping a 77-point hammering at the hands of West Coast in Perth on Sunday.

A top-four finish is now highly unlikely, and a loss to the Kangaroos could be a fatal blow to their hopes of earning a home elimination final.

Forward Jarrad Grant is set for a stint on the sidelines after suffering a compound fracture of his nose from colliding heads with teammate Marcus Bontempelli against the Eagles.

Defender Dale Morris could also be set for a stint on the sidelines after being subbed off with achilles tendon soreness, while ruckman Tom Campbell (corked leg) is also in doubt to face the Kangaroos.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge confirmed Liam Picken (back) and Matthew Boyd (soreness) would be ready to return.

And Ayce Cordy or Will Minson will be in line for a recall if Campbell fails to recover in time.

Forward Tom Boyd is another player in line for a call-up as the Bulldogs attempt to patch up their side in time for the Kangaroos.

The Bulldogs were dealt a savage reality check against the Eagles, who piled on 11 of the last 12 goals of the match to secure the 25.12 (162) to 13.7 (85) victory.

Beveridge has urged his charges to learn from the heavy defeat, rather than dwell too much on the negatives.

One positive was the form of forward Jake Stringer, whose five goals kept his side alive until West Coast’s brutal finish to the match.

Stringer has now kicked 49 goals for the season to establish himself as a star in the making.

“In the end we couldn’t really get him the supply you would like as a forward, for most of the second half,” Beveridge said.

“He did some brilliant things and he has been in good form.

“But as a forward, you are so reliant on what happens up the ground and he didn’t have enough opportunities.”

North Melbourne are riding high on a seven-match winning streak after beating ladder-leaders Fremantle by 11 points on Sunday.

The Kangaroos have won their past four games against the Bulldogs, and the winner of Saturday’s re-match will be in the box seat to secure a home elimination final.

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