Bulldog Josh Bruce flying to new heights

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It's hard to get much hype when you share a forward line with the 'AstroNaught', but Western Bulldogs forward Josh Bruce has quietly become a major weapon in his team's premiership bid.

Bruce has booted 39 goals from 15 games this season to sit third in the Coleman medal race and is on track to better his career-best 50-goal campaign that he recorded while at St Kilda in 2015.

Now in his second season at the Bulldogs, 29-year-old Bruce is thriving in a forward line that features the high-flying Aaron Naughton and ruckman Tim English.

Naughton is a superstar in the making, with his mesmerising aerial efforts earning him the highest of praise.

The 21-year-old has booted 33.31 this season, but will miss Sunday's clash with Sydney at Marvel Stadium through concussion.

Naughton's absence leaves Bruce to marshal a forward line that will include highly-touted debutant Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who was the No.1 pick at last year's national draft but has had to wait patiently for his chance in the senior team.

Ugle-Hagan grew up idolising Lance Franklin and he'll get the chance to play against his childhood hero on Sunday - albeit at opposite ends of the field.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge isn't sure whether the Swans will physically target Ugle-Hagan.

But if they do, Beveridge is confident the 19-year-old will be able to handle it.

"He's experienced a lot of that already playing for Footscray (in the VFL)," Beveridge said.

"There's no doubt for any young key defender who has been sent out by their coach to do a job on Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, they've taken up the challenge on the physical front and he's had to cope with that.

"He doesn't shy away from that. He's a tough kid, and he'll confront it in his own way. But we'll help him."

The Swans were in white-hot form last week when they demolished West Coast by 92 points at GMHBA Stadium.

It kept Sydney (9-6) in the race for the top four and Beveridge is expecting a big fight this Sunday.

"Sydney after that big margin down at the Cattery, they'll be full of beans and confidence," Beveridge said.

"So we're expecting them to really come out and try to put us on the back foot."

Beveridge is confident Naughton will be fit to return from concussion for next week's clash with the Suns at Metricon Stadium.

"He's fine. Even after the game with the boys talking and reflecting out the game, he remembered most of it," Beveridge said.

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