Western Bulldogs forward Josh Bruce has suffered an injury setback in his comeback from a knee reconstruction, hurting his hamstring at training on Wednesday.
The Dogs believe the issue is only minor and that he is experiencing only tightness in the muscle, but it will be enough to prevent him from lining up in the VFL this week.
The injury comes just days after Bruce made his return to competitive football in the seconds from a knee reconstruction last August.
The Dogs are taking a cautious approach with Bruce, who must build match fitness before he can be considered for senior selection. Bruce played about 85 to 90 minutes for Footscray last Friday night, kicking three goals.
The left-footer, the club’s leading goalkicker last year despite missing six games, has been sorely missed by the Dogs as a second tall target to support spearhead Aaron Naughton. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Josh Schache, and Buku Khamis have all been tried in that role without making the position theirs.
The Dogs will make at least two changes for the game against Hawthorn, with ruckman Tim English (concussion) and defender Taylor Duryea (knee) already ruled out, while Cody Weightman is under an injury cloud after dislocating his elbow in the win over Greater Western Sidney.
The Hawks have been hit hard by injury with forward Chad Wingard (calf tightness), Sam Frost (knee), and Will Day (health and safety protocols) all out. Spearhead Mitch Lewis is back from knee soreness, while mid-season recruit James Blanck will make his debut.