AAP AFL

Naughton to return for Bulldogs’ AFL game

By AAP Newswire

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has tempered expectations for key forward Aaron Naughton's AFL return from an ankle injury.

The 20-year-old will be a vital inclusion as the Dogs attempt to defeat Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night and snap a two-game losing run.

Naughton, who booted 32 majors in 2019, hasn't played since going off early in the Dogs' round-four win against Sydney in June.

"I think it's important to lower expectations," Beveridge told reporters on Friday.

"He's (Naughton) been out for a little while and for him to come in cold and try to play his best will be a big challenge for him.

"The frustrating thing is he was starting to get back to some of his best in the Sydney game when he got injured."

Having a strong forward marking target will boost Beveridge's team significantly after averaging just 45 points a game in their last three outings.

Despite dominating the inside-50 count against ladder-leaders Port Adelaide on Monday night, the Dogs came up 13 points short.

They will also be bolstered by the return of fellow goalkicker Bailey Dale from an ankle injury.

But they will have to take on another top-four team without valuable defender Hayden Crozier.

The former Fremantle player has been dealing with a toe issue that has become too difficult to manage and will miss at least two games.

"It's not something he hasn't been dealing with, he had an episode and now he's going through a bit more of an extreme period," Beveridge said.

Ryan Gardner replaces Crozier while Cody Weightman and Roarke Smith have been dropped.