THE Western Bulldogs are confident their vaunted midfield is deep enough to cover the loss of Marcus Bontempelli if the club captain is ruled out of their AFL preliminary final against Port Adelaide.
Scans have cleared Bontempelli of structural damage to the right knee he hurt in the last few minutes of the Bulldogs’ thrilling semi-final win over Brisbane.
However, the Brownlow Medal fancy is in doubt for Saturday night’s meeting with the Power at Adelaide Oval.
Livewire forward Cody Weightman has been ruled out with low-level concussion symptoms after being substituted out of the Lions game.
The Bulldogs arguably boast the competition’s strongest on-ball division, with Bontempelli starring alongside Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and Bailey Smith.
They added former Collingwood ball-winner Adam Treloar to their mix over the off-season and retained Josh Dunkley after he requested a trade.
It leaves the Dogs in a good position to challenge a Port Adelaide midfield unit led by star duo Ollie Wines and Travis Boak, regardless of whether Bontempelli is cleared to play.
“We feel like we’ve got enough depth to cover anyone,” Bulldogs defender Taylor Duryea said.
“You never want to lose or be without your star players and your captain, that’s for sure.
“But I don’t think if we were without Bont this weekend that we would feel we aren’t up to the challenge or that our midfield can’t get the job done.
“That’s certainly not the case.”
Bontempelli had 29 disposals in an influential display against Brisbane, with Macrae, Smith and Liberatore also outstanding.
“We’ve definitely got faith in the guys that we’ve got,” Duryea said.
“Jack Macrae played an amazing game, Libba kicked two important goals for us and Bailey Smith did what he did.
“We’re confident in our midfield group knowing that they’ve got a big challenge ahead of them.”
Bulldogs head of sports medicine Chris Bell said Bontempelli will be given until late this week to prove his fitness for the preliminary final.
“Scans have cleared him of any serious structural damage, but he does have some symptoms related to the injury,” Bell said.
“We’ll work with Marcus through the back end of this week to determine his availability.”
Spring-heeled forward Weightman has enjoyed a breakout season and is a chance to play in the grand final on September 25 if the Bulldogs advance.
“During the halftime break (against Brisbane) we made the decision to remove him from the game,” Bell said.
“Subsequent testing has confirmed he does have some low-level concussion symptoms.
“He won’t play this week, but we’ll monitor Cody in the next couple of days to determine his availability.”
(C) AAP 2021