The revolving door to the Western Bulldogs treatment room keeps swinging, with Jake Stringer heading in but another star coming out.
Stringer’s shoulder injury will sideline him from Saturday night’s game with St Kilda, with Tom Liberatore judged “almost 100 per cent” to return.
It’s been the same story all season for coach Luke Beveridge, who has endured forced omissions every week bar one since round three.
Champion data statistics show the Bulldogs to be the worst hit of any side in the top eight.
Over the course of 16 matches, Luke Beveridge’s players have been forced to sit out a combined total of over 100 games.
Just nine players – including Stringer to his point – have played all 16 matches, though the enigmatic forward will be the latest to watch from the stands on Saturday.
Stringer wore a heavy bump for Gold Coast’s Steven May in the Bulldogs’ win in Cairns on Saturday night, leaving him in pain and damaging his shoulder.
“It’s good that it’s not a really serious shoulder injury but it’s never good to lose a player,” Beveridge told reporters on Tuesday.
Liberatore is set to return after one week out with a bruised lung after doctors judged the 24-year-old a flight risk for the trip to Far North Queensland.
Further help could be around the corner.
Medium-term absentees Luke Dahlhaus (knee) and Toby McLean (foot) are eyeing returns in round 19 against Geelong.
But if there’s a comforting factor for Beveridge in the churn of players in and out of the side, it’s that their depth has been tested and strengthened.
Beveridge said “half a dozen” Footscray players put their hands up in the VFL with a stirring one-point win over leaders Casey, led by Bailey Dale.
The 19-year-old kicked four and saw plenty of the ball and could find himself in the Bulldogs forward line against the Saints given Stringer’s absence.
“We’ve had a reasonable spread of inside 50 targets but there’s no doubt (Stringer) makes something out of nothing so we’ll have to look to others to do that this week,” Beveridge said.
“There’s plenty of boys that have put their hand up on the weekend so we’ll have a pretty strong 22 going into the Saints game.”