Bulldogs hero set to return for Lions clash

Shayne Hope |

Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore is set to return to face Brisbane this weekend.
Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore is set to return to face Brisbane this weekend.

Western Bulldogs clearance king Tom Liberatore is set to return to action in a boost to his side’s chances in their AFL match against the Brisbane Lions.

Liberatore has missed six games this season because of two concussion setbacks.

The 32-year-old midfielder collapsed on the field against Essendon in round five and was injured again in his comeback against Hawthorn in round eight.

The Bulldogs have taken a cautious approach to Liberatore’s latest return, gradually ramping up his workload after he cleared concussion protocols last month.

But Liberatore is expected to play against Brisbane at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

“Tom has built some great continuity in his training in the last few weeks,” Bulldogs head of sports medicine Chris Bell said.

“He has progressed as well as we could have hoped and ticked every possible box to declare his availability.

“If he gets through main training Wednesday like I expect, he will return to availability.”

Fellow midfielder Ed Richards is also likely to play against the Lions after missing last round’s 18-point win over Collingwood through concussion.

That victory was the Bulldogs’ third in their past four games, improving their record to 6-6 and lifting them to within touching distance of the top eight.

But it came at a cost, with James Harmes and Laitham Vandermeer going down with hamstring concerns.

Vandermeer has a corked hamstring that bled, but could still play against Brisbane, while Harmes won’t be available until after the Dogs’ mid-season bye.

“Scans have confirmed that James has suffered a low-grade hamstring injury,” Bell said.

“I expect him to miss the next 3-4 weeks of footy.”

In further bad news, versatile runner Jason Johannisen has sustained a calf injury before returning from his hamstring strain and won’t be available until at least round 17.