Dogs tip a new-year resurgence

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 13 Januari 2013 | 14.43

Western Bulldogs star Adam Cooney has enjoyed a strong pre-season. Picture: Norm Oorloff Source: Herald Sun

WESTERN Bulldogs intend to rise up the ladder quicker than expected under second-year coach Brendan McCartney.

The Dogs suffered an horrendous injury run sidelining some of their biggest stars last year, resulting in only five wins - their least since 2004.

But the return of four key senior players, including inspirational broken leg victim Dale Morris, has fuelled hope of a resurgence beyond 2013.

Morris is targeting a Round 1 return after a full year out, along with key backman Tom Williams (shoulder), onballer Daniel Cross (shoulder) and reinvigorated midfielder Adam Cooney (knee).

Cooney, 27, is believed to be enjoying his most productive pre-season since his 2008 Brownlow Medal year, while powerhouse No.5 draft pick Jake Stringer is also on track for an early debut after an impressive summer campaign.

The Dogs are rated $13 outsiders with TAB to play finals this season, ahead of only Gold Coast ($26) and Greater Western Sydney ($51).

But Dogs chief executive Simon Garlick said the club had high hopes of a swift resurgence after investing heavily at the draft table.

"We've seen so many examples of these things where it can turn around quicker than what people might have anticipated otherwise," Garlick said.

"We have got some pretty exciting kids, but throw into that some potential recruits in the likes of Cooney, Morris - and we missed Cross for a period of time last year - and Williams as well.

"So considering all that, we think there is a fair bit to be excited about.

"We are not going to think that it will take 'x' amount of years (to regenerate)."

The Dogs will launch their season with four of their first five games at home ground Etihad Stadium, but have a tough draw overall, playing GWS and Gold Coast only once each, despite a bottom-four finish last year.

Morris has continued to improve over the pre-season after scrapping comeback plans last year when a stress fracture developed in his recovering leg.

 The 30-year-old is not expected to play a major role in the NAB Cup but could press for selection soon after.

"Everything's tracking as you would hope it to be and he's doing as much training as the (fitness) guys want him to do at this stage of the year," Garlick said.

"So it's all geared up for him playing in Round 1. There hasn't been a setback or anything like that."s

"He makes a pretty significant difference for us, having him back there. He's a beauty and he plays on talls and smalls."

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