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'Astronomical deal' could tempt Smith: Beveridge

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge admits his AFL club faces a fight to convince high-profile midfielder Bailey Smith to stay at Whitten Oval beyond this season.

Smith is heading overseas for a three-week break to freshen up mentally as he continues he rehabilitation from a knee injury, after damaging an anterior cruciate ligament at training in December last year.

The injury is set to keep Smith sidelined for the entire 2024 season, but hasn't deterred rival clubs from chasing the out-of-contract ball-winner.

Collingwood, Geelong and Hawthorn have all been linked to plays for Smith and Beveridge stopped short of saying he expects the 23-year-old to remain at the Bulldogs next year.

"I hope he is. I wouldn't say 'expect'," Beveridge told the Seven Network on Wednesday night.

"I think he's got a lot of work to do and we haven't got our head in the sand, we know that there's a number of clubs who Bailey appeals to.

"We're working behind the scenes to make sure that he's able to come back fit and healthy and strong, first and foremost.

"But secondary to that, I know he feels like he's a significant part of the football club.

"It's just that in the market and the short space of time that the playing group have to work within, if there's a club or two or three that come at him with an astronomical deal, he may not be able to knock it back.

"There's obviously stories about players probably sacrificing some of that to stay in an environment and we'll work with him on his thought processes around that."

Bailey Smith.
Bailey Smith in full flight against Richmond before his knee injury in 2023. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Beveridge also said the Dogs will not give up easily on Rory Lobb, who is reportedly unhappy with a lack of playing time and likely to request a move to a fourth AFL club at the end of the season.

The 31-year-old ruck-forward is contracted until the end of 2026.

"We feel like he's got a number of years left in him and we don't think that we'll be giving him up any time soon," Beveridge said.

Lobb has played just three senior games this year - his second at the club, after 20 appearances in 2023 - but will be recalled for Friday night's crunch clash with the Magpies at Marvel Stadium.

The opportunity comes with Bulldogs spearhead Aaron Naughton unavailable for at least a month because of a knee injury.