Adam Cooney makes call on Bailey Smith leaving Bulldogs after 'devastating' injury blow

The Bulldogs have been dealt a major blow for the upcoming season.

Bailey Smith reacts and Smith takes a photo.
AFL great Adam Cooney said Bailey Smith's injury is devastating and leaves the Bulldogs with a big hole to fill in their midfield. (Getty Images)

Adam Cooney said he feels for Bailey Smith after he was dealt the devastating news he would miss the 2024 AFL season after suffering an ACL injury in training and believes his contract decision has now been made harder. The AFL world rallied around Smith on Wednesday after it was confirmed he would miss the next season having injured his ACL in training.

Smith was set to bounce back after a lacklustre season, from his standards, having seen his average disposals drop from 29 in 2022 to 23. Cooney was confident Smith would bounce back with the talent at his disposal.

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However, his injury has left the Western Bulldogs shellshocked with the 23-year-old coming off contract at the end of next year. And Cooney believes the loss is a blow for the whole of the AFL, not just the Bulldogs.

“After a quiet season 2023 being coming into a contract season, it's devastating for Bailey," Cooney said on SEN Radio. "I just feel like he had a point to prove coming into season 2024.

“In the social world, he is the most famous player in the AFL, he's more famous than Dustin Martin, which is unbelievable given the difference in CVs. He's a damaging midfielder at his best who had a cracking 2021 finals series, and it leaves the Dogs in a bit of a hole.”

When asked about his contract negotiations, Cooney believes it could be up to the Bulldogs to show Bailey how good they can be in 2024 if he is to decide on whether to stay or seek footy elsewhere. Cooney said the midfielder has fallen out of favour at times with coach Luke Beveridge, which could impact his decision.

Bailey Smith runs the ball.
Bailey Smith (pictured) is at the centre of transfer reports with his contract up at the end of next season. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images) (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Bulldogs form dependant on Bailey Smith negotiations

However, if Bailey feels he can recapture his form and help the Bulldogs to the top, then it could persuade him to stay. “I feel like if he would have squeezed back into that midfield, then I think he would have been more inclined to stay," Cooney said of Bailey's contract.

“It depends on how they go. If things go really well and the Dogs finish top four, which they have the potential to if you have a look at this list, then he might think, ‘Well, everything's on track … I want to stay for another couple of years, see if we can get another premiership sign that two-year deal’.”

Adam Cooney walks.
Former player Adam Cooney (pictured) said he felt for Bailey Smith after he was ruled out for the season after an ACL injury.(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images) (Adam Trafford/AFL Media via Getty Images)

The 23-year-old was taken with the seventh overall pick in the 2018 Draft and has played 103 games for the Dogs ever since. He struggled with inconsistent form in 2023 and fell out of favour with Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.

Smith is off contract at the end of 2024 and rumours have been rife that he will look to move clubs. He recently travelled to America with Collingwood gun Nick Daicos, leading Magpies fans to speculate whether the club is looking to snare him.

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