Western Bulldogs' depleted key position stocks will soon receive a boost with father-son recruit Sam Darcy in line to play in the club's reserves before their AFL bye.
Darcy, the son of Bulldogs great Luke, struggled with a foot injury even before he was taken with pick two in last year's draft.
But the 205cm giant has started training with the Bulldogs' main group and coach Luke Beveridge is optimistic Darcy can appear at VFL level for Footscray in coming weeks.
Strong marking forward Josh Bruce is also ahead of schedule in his recovery from ACL surgery and could be back in the AFL by round 14.
"(Bruce) and Sam Darcy had their first main training session with the group the other day," Beveridge said on Thursday.
"Our staff are saying probably post-bye, talking to (Bruce) he's keen to bring that forward.
"We think (Darcy) might be able to play some state league footy before the bye, which would be fantastic if we can get him out there.
"These foot injuries are a bit temperamental and they can be nasty but we feel like we've got him in a pretty good position now after his rehab.
"He's just a young pup so it's going to take him a while but good for him to play some minutes before the bye."
Last year's grand finalists badly need a boost to revive their stuttering start to the season, dropping to 2-4 after last Saturday's shock defeat to Adelaide.
The Bulldogs have tried a number of different strategies to fill the void left by Bruce, including experimenting with captain Marcus Bontempelli up forward, but are ranked 12th in attack this year.
They will be without mature-aged success story Anthony Scott for this Sunday's clash with Essendon after he tested positive for COVID-19.
Beveridge is hopeful more players will avoid catching coronavirus, with the entire group returning negative results on Thursday.
Veteran Mitch Wallis is expected to return to face the Bombers after an emotional past fortnight.
His mother-in-law died just days after Wallis and wife Emily welcomed their second child into the world.
Australian Associated Press
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