Luke Beveridge's honest Bailey Smith admission as rival AFL clubs circle Western Bulldogs midfielder

Beveridge admits it will be hard to hang onto Bailey Smith beyond this season.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge admits the club will likely struggle to hang onto high-profile midfielder Bailey Smith beyond this season. Smith is set to head overseas for a three-week break for a mental freshen-up as he continues rehabilitation from an anterior cruciate ligament injury he picked up at training in December last year.

The injury is set to keep Smith on the sideline for the entire 2024 season but it hasn't deterred rival clubs from circling the out-of-contract AFL star. Collingwood, Geelong and Hawthorn are all said to be in the hunt for Smith and Beveridge admits it will be very tough to keep him in 2025 but hopes he stays.

Pictured left Luke Beveridge and right with Bailey Smith
Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge admits the club will likely struggle to hang onto high-profile midfielder Bailey Smith. Image: Getty

"I hope he is (playing at the Western Bulldogs). 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."

The Dogs tabled a two-year contract extension for Smith in March but as yet the player has not made any indication that he will sign it, with the real possibility that he has played his last game in Western Bulldogs colours.

Beveridge also faces a task to keep Rory Lobb at the club beyond this season, with the 31-year-old reportedly unsettled by a lack of playing time. The ruck-forward is rumoured to be considering requesting a move to a fourth AFL club at the end of the season but Beveridge says the club won't be giving up on keeping him.

"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 but is set to be recalled for Friday night's crunch clash with the Magpies at Marvel Stadium.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 27: Rory Lobb of the Bulldogs compete in a ruck contest with Luke Jackson of the Dockers during the 2024 AFL Round 07 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on April 27, 2024 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Rory Lobb is reportedly unhappy with his lack of game time in 2024.

The opportunity comes with Dogs spearhead Aaron Naughton unavailable for at least a month due to a knee injury. And Beveridge says Lobb has a point to prove and is committed to giving his all for the club.

"He's absolutely committed here and anything that happens post-season, happens post-season," Beveridge said. "I think he was just trying to reassure me that anything like that, that for him was a bit distasteful or unsavoury, won't get in the way of his application."

with AAP