Dogs star Naughton in doubt for round one

Bulldogs' Aaron Naughton will have knee surgery after sustaining cartilage damage during training.
Bulldogs' Aaron Naughton will have knee surgery after sustaining cartilage damage during training.

Western Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton is set to have surgery on a knee injury that could delay his start to the AFL season.

The 20-year-old sensation was a late withdrawal from the Bulldogs' pre-season series opener against North Melbourne on Friday night, which they won by 44 points.

He will undergo arthroscopic surgery to assess a cartilage issue in the opposite knee to the one he injured during last year's finals series.

Dogs coach Luke Beveridge conceded Naughton was in doubt for round one.

"We hope that he won't be out too long," Beveridge said.

"I'm not worried. We don't want to press it if he's not available.

"We've got to have a long-term outlook for all our players, but in particular circumstantially Naughts.

"So we won't push him to be ready for round one."

Naughton is due to have surgery on Saturday, just 27 days before the Dogs host Collingwood at Marvel Stadium.

"If he has the arthroscopy and he comes up cherry ripe in two weeks then we'll probably pick him," Beveridge said.

"But if there's any doubt, there's any swelling and he's going to take a couple more weeks then we'll be conservative with him."

Naughton has played 41 senior games in two seasons since being selected with pick No.9 in the 2017 draft.

The West Australian product was a revelation when switched from defence to attack last year, kicking 32.27 from 23 games.

Only Sam Lloyd (38) kicked more goals for the Bulldogs in 2019.

Naughton has been slated to play in a dangerous attacking set-up alongside fellow tall Josh Schache and new recruit Josh Bruce.

The trio shapes as key pieces in the Bulldogs' finals aspirations after last year's embarrassing elimination final exit at the hands of eventual grand finalists Greater Western Sydney.

Bruce also missed Friday night's game because of a back spasm, but is expected to play in the Dogs' pre-season match against Port Adelaide on March 7.

Tim English (concussion) and Matt Suckling (concussion) should also return.

But Ed Richards is in doubt after he was concussed by a high bump from Kangaroos defender Marley Williams.

Australian Associated Press