Western Bulldogs’ midfield bull Josh Dunkley is closing in on a return from a serious shoulder injury, while best mate Adam Treloar has buoyed hopes he could yet play a part in the club’s premiership quest.
Dunkley has not played since he was hurt and required a shoulder reconstruction after the round-six win over Greater Western Sydney in Canberra.
He has been running and completing non-contact drills, with the next step for him needing to show he can take heavy hits.
Dunkley has been targeting a round-18 return against the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium and sources at the Bulldogs maintain that is now a realistic option.
Having been denied his wish in last year’s trade period to join Essendon, Dunkley began this season in exceptional touch, averaging more than 30 disposals per game, while being a contested-ball machine through six wins.
The Bulldogs confirmed last week that Treloar’s return from an ankle syndesmosis injury was slower than expected, with coach Luke Beveridge conceding the former Magpie might not return this season.
However, there was more of an optimistic vibe on Tuesday when Treloar was able to put weight on his ankle and resume straight-line running. He still has much work to do and the Bulldogs insist there is still no timeline on a possible return, but they are hopeful he will reclaim his spot in the Bulldogs’ prolific midfield this season.
Key forward Aaron Naughton (concussion) will miss Sunday’s blockbuster against Sydney, while ruckman Stef Martin is still a fortnight from returning from a groin issue.
Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps will need to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s clash against Geelong.