Star Liberatore out of Bulldogs' AFL final

·2-min read

Star midfielder Tom Liberatore has been ruled out of the Western Bulldogs' AFL elimination final against Fremantle.

In a major blow for the Bulldogs, their clearance machine will not run out on Optus Stadium on Saturday night after suffering a hamstring injury.

Liberatore hurt himself at training last week and will only be considered if the Dogs upset the Dockers in Perth and win through to a semi-final.

"He had an over-stretch last week and got through the whole session but we did some investigations and he won't play this week, unfortunately," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said on Wednesday.

"If we get through, he'll be touch and go beyond that."

Liberatore has the fifth-most clearances in the league this season, only behind All-Australians Clayton Oliver, Touk Miller, Lachie Neale and Patrick Cripps.

The 30-year-old was one of the Bulldogs' best when they lost to Fremantle by 17 points at Marvel Stadium a month ago.

Liberatore's absence will increase the load on captain Marcus Bontempelli, who has been dealing with an adductor issue, but is no doubt to face Fremantle.

"Whether it upsets it (the midfield rotation) or not, I'm not sure," Beveridge said.

"I tend to think the six of the boys who play through there sometimes, it's one too many.

"There's an opportunity for someone else to come in and play a forward, wing type role."

Young star Bailey Smith has been struggling with soreness but Beveridge expects him to be available after a lighter training schedule.

It comes after the Dockers were dealt a blow on Tuesday when superstar captain Nat Fyfe was ruled out with his own hamstring issue.

It is the opposite leg to the hamstring injury that sidelined Fyfe for three games before his return for the win over GWS in round 23.

The Bulldogs stumbled into eighth spot to play Fremantle after Carlton lost their last four games of the season to fall out of the top-eight.