Lost Dog to have big AFL finals impact

Jake Stringer’s Western Bulldogs teammates are backing the livewire forward to return to the team and have a big impact on the club’s AFL finals campaign.

Stringer has spent the past two weeks in the VFL after coach Luke Beveridge lost patience with his hot-and-cold form in the latter stages of the season.

But with key forward Tom Boyd the latest Bulldog to fall victim to the club’s injury curse, Stringer’s VFL exile looks set to end.

“He’s stuck at it really well … I think he’s gone back and got some really good form,” Jason Johannisen told reporters on Tuesday.

“He’s stayed the same, he understands that’s what happens in footy, and he’s just done the best he can.

“He is (resilient), he understands what he needs to do back there and I think he’s gone really well.”

An in-form Stringer could be the boost the injury-hit Bulldogs need as they limp into September.

Beveridge’s side face the daunting task of returning to Domain Stadium in Perth to face West Coast in an elimination final on Thursday week.

Boyd rolled his ankle in the Dogs’ demoralising away loss to lowly Fremantle in round 23 and he joins Easton Wood (ankle injury), Tom Liberatore (ankle), Jordan Roughead (calf), Jack Macrae (hamstring) and Marcus Adams (foot) who are all fighting to play a part in the finals campaign.

“It probably shows how good our systems are, it doesn’t matter who’s playing, as long as we’ve got a fit 22 we can play well,” former Hawk Matt Suckling said, playing down the club’s lengthy injury list.

“Everyone has injuries, we’ve been hit by them as well, but we’re just excited that 22 players get to play … especially at this time of year when everyone’s jumping out of their skin.”

Suckling has missed three of the past five matches with an achilles injury but he said the issue was being carefully managed and won’t impact his performance against the Eagles.

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