Western Bulldogs have been desperate for good news on the injury front throughout a luckless AFL season.
On Monday they finally received some.
The club is optimistic midfielders Tom Liberatore (ankle) and Jack Macrae (hamstring), both injured in a last-start loss to Geelong, will be fit before finals.
It was initially feared Liberatore and Macrae would be ruled out for the rest of 2016.
Liberatore underwent surgery after finishing the game on crutches and in a moonboot, while Macrae is nursing tendon damage.
The Bulldogs are also upbeat about the progress of injured defenders Dale Morris (hamstring), Matthew Boyd (achilles) and Matthew Suckling (achilles).
The experienced trio, who were sorely missed in round 19, could all return for Saturday night’s crunch clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
“We’ll assess them through this week of training with a view to being available for selection this weekend,” football manager Graham Lowe told the club website on Monday.
The Bulldogs weren’t alone on Monday, when several clubs were buoyed by the results of injury scans.
Ruckman Sam Jacobs, who rolled his ankle during Adelaide’s 82-point win over Essendon on Sunday, has been cleared of serious damage.
The Crows say Jacobs and captain Taylor Walker, who is also recovering from an ankle injury, will undergo fitness tests later this week but could face Brisbane on Saturday night.
Melbourne forward Jesse Hogan, who hurt his knee taking a mark on Sunday but played through the pain, has also avoided serious injury.
Hogan could tackle Hawthorn on Saturday at the MCG, although the Demons may take a conservative approach with the gifted youngster’s bruised knee.
North Melbourne didn’t fare so well, with Jarrad Waite sent for hip surgery in an effort to have the forward fully fit for finals.
Waite has nursed a hip problem since round 11 and played just three times for the Kangaroos since then.
Greater Western Sydney’s Rory Lobb has been diagnosed with a grade-one strain to his medial collateral ligament.