Shepparton News

Keath almost sure of start

KIALLA PRODUCT LOOKING THE GOODS FOR GRAND FINAL BERTH, WHILE VANDERMEER STILL IN DOUBT

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Alex Keath has stepped up his training workload and is set to rejoin the Western Bulldogs’ main group in a positive sign he will be cleared to return from injury for the AFL grand final.

The key defender missed the preliminar­y final with a hamstring injury and was on light training duties at the Bulldogs’ base in Perth last week.

But fellow backman Caleb Daniel is confident Keath will be ready to take on Melbourne’s

tall forwards at Optus Stadium on Saturday.

‘‘He’s training pretty well,’’ Daniel said yesterday.

‘‘He had an extended session on Saturday to get a few more (kilometres) in the legs and now he’ll be training with the main group as far as I know.

‘‘So he’s tracking really well and hopefully he’s available. I think he will be.’’

Livewire forward Cody Weightman (concussion) is set to return and Laitham

Vandermeer (hamstring) remains in doubt.

The extra week off before this year’s decider has worked in Keath’s favour, with the Bulldogs squad taking a positive approach to the fortnight-long build-up.

It was stuck in quarantine under Western Australia’s tight COVID-19 protocols until Sunday morning, but is now operating with more freedom.

The first week after the preliminar­y final allowed the Bulldogs to mentally refresh, but the build-up will intensify in the coming days as the grand final draws nearer.

There were nine Bulldogs from the 2016 flag team in the preliminar­y final line-up, with Daniel of the belief that experience will help stand them in good stead this week.

Star recruit Adam Treloar also has a grand final appearance under his belt after playing in Collingwoo­d’s heartbreak­ing 2018 decider.

‘‘I don’t think there needs to be a switch f licked,’’ Daniel said.

‘‘We’re old enough and experience­d enough to realise that now’s the time that you want to be playing footy.

‘‘(Last week) was more chilled in that you didn’t have to stress about a game on the weekend, but it is a grand final.

‘‘We’re in tune with our emotions enough to realise that it’s pretty special to be around and when to pick it up.’’

 ??  ?? Alex Keath
Alex Keath

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