Luke Beveridge has more time to bring an AFL flag to the Western Bulldogs after signing a contract extension on Tuesday but the coach remains intent on achieving that goal this season despite the team’s shocking injury toll.
Tom Liberatore (ankle) and Jack Macrae (hamstring) joined a lengthy list of Bulldog casualties in Friday night’s defeat to Geelong, just a week after they lost Mitch Wallis (broken leg) and Jack Redpath (knee) to long-term injuries during an upset by St Kilda.
The club’s horror injury list had already included long-term absentee Bob Murphy and other key players, Matt Suckling, Matthew Boyd, Dale Morris, Tom Campbell and Marcus Adams, before the Cats’ clash.
With the Bulldogs slipping to seventh on the ladder as the casualties mount, Beveridge isn’t buying into the growing perception the side are a spent force in 2016.
“Try telling our players that,” Beveridge said on Tuesday.
“We feel like there’s still a lot of growth left in us … we feel like there’s some boys who can definitely come into the side and help us on our way.
“We’d like to start winning as soon as possible. Hopefully, we can do that this week against North Melbourne.”
With four games remaining in the regular season, Liberatore and Macrae are expected to miss three to four weeks with their respective injuries.
However, Beveridge maintains it’s still too early to rule them out for the rest of the campaign.
“We feel like they’ll be available – it depends on whether we make finals and how deep we go if we do,” Beveridge said.
“We don’t think Tom will be available in the next few weeks but Jack maybe, so we’re leaving that up to our medical and conditioning staff who’ve had such a hard time with all the bad luck.”
In better news for the Dogs, Dale Morris will return for Saturday night’s clash with the Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium and Boyd is pushing his claims to return from an achilles injury.
But Suckling is considered touch and go to shake off his achilles strain in time.
Beveridge is in the second year of the three-year deal he signed when he replaced Brendan McCartney at the end of 2014, with his new contract keeping him at the club until the end of the 2020 season.
He guided the Dogs back to the finals in his first campaign, earning him the AFL Coaches’ Association coach of the year award, with his side set to contest the finals again this season.